Fuchsias

Course CodeVHT112
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become an expert with growing and using fuchsias.

Discover everything you ever wanted to know about fuchsias, from soil management and feeding to pruning and propagation. Learn how fuchsias are classified into several major groups, the characteristics of those groups and how/where to grow different types to achieve the best results.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • General characteristics of fuchsias
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs)
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Pest & disease
    • Feeding
    • Pruning
    • Protection from wind etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Propagating and potting media
    • Methods of propagating this group of plants.
    • Stock plants
    • Softwood cuttings, Semi hardwood cuttings
    • Hormones
    • Creating the best cutting environment
  4. The Most Commonly Grown Varieties
    • Magellanica hybrids
    • Triphylla hybrids
    • Upright (bush or shrub) fuchsias
    • Tall growers (suited to standards)
    • Dwarf Fuschsias
    • Trailing Fuchsias
  5. Other Important Groups
    • Quelusia Fuchsias
    • Eufuchsia Fuchsias
    • Ellobium, Kierschlegeria,Skinnera and other groups
    • How to train a Standard Fuchsia
    • Creating an Espalier fuchsia
  6. The Lesser Grown Varieties
    • Various species fuchsias
  7. Making the Best Use of Fuchsias
  8. Special Assignment - On one selected plant or group.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


DIFFERENT WAYS TO GROW FUCHSIAS

Being quite versatile in habit and hardiness, different types of fuchsia may be grown in many ways.

Pots on the Ground

Fuchsias can be grown in pots or tubs, as hanging basket plants, as a hedge, a small bush, taller shrubs, or as groundcover plants. If grown in a basket or pot, they tend to dry out much faster than if grown in the ground and can be damaged by strong winds. Some protection and regular attention to watering is essential for container grown fuchsias. If you haven’t got the time to keep a close eye on them, either install a drip irrigation system to water each plant or plant them in the ground.

 

As Indoor Plants

Fuchsias can be used as indoor plants but they do need to be managed as such which means giving them periods in either a greenhouse, or outdoors. They will tolerate the lower levels of light inside a building, but the dry air indoors can be a problem. Air conditioning makes it even more difficult to keep fuchsias inside. 

Some fuchsia cultivars are more able to tolerate dry air than others, and so choosing the right variety to grow indoors is important. It is also critical to know how long you can keep it in a drier atmosphere. Hardy and semi hardy cultivars are generally more suitable for growing inside. In a very dark place, leaves tend to drop and problems with pests can increase.

Those species grown indoors grow best in a bright place with indirect sunlight and good ventilation. Direct sunlight can burn foliage, particularly in summer.

When a fuchsia has been in dry conditions for too long the buds (and perhaps leaves) can start dropping. Whilst inside; feed plants with a weak liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks. Spraying a mist over the plant can also help offset the problem of low humidity.  

When temperatures and light levels diminish, over winter; fuchsias (even indoors), can become dormant. If dormancy begins to develop; watering and feeding should be gradually reduced and then stopped. As a plant heads into dormancy, it should not be kept inside in a place where temperatures can drop very low during the night only to be raised again by heaters during the day. It is often best to move plants to a frost free place where temperatures do not fluctuate greatly (e.g. a garage or greenhouse).  

Don’t allow soil to remain too wet over the winter period, but do not let it dry out completely either. If soil becomes very dry, apply a little water (not hot, not icy) to keep the soil slightly moist).

 

As Greenhouse Plants

A greenhouse is a “tool” that allows us to control the environment for the plants we grow in it. There needs to be an appropriate reason for growing fuchsias in a greenhouse. If you are in a very hot climate a greenhouse can provide a cooled environment. If the climate outside is too dry, the greenhouse can create a more humid place, and if the climate is too cold then the greenhouse can be heated.

Greenhouses are often used to ‘overwinter’ fuchsias in colder regions because they provide collections of plants with protection from frost and snow.

 

As Tub Plants

Fuchsias are usually propagated and grown in containers when young, but are also sometimes grown their whole life in a container. The type and size of container you use will be determined by the cultivar being grown and the way in which you want to grow it. A large growing cultivar can be kept smaller by confining it to a smaller container and pruning the top, or even by treating it like a bonsai.

Container plants offer you a number of advantages:

  • Containers can be moved - in a cold climate, they can be moved to a protected area in winter. They can be rearranged periodically, so the better looking plants are always the most prominent.
  • Drainage, soil and other conditions can be better managed in containers.
  • The container itself can be decorative and add to the aesthetics of a garden.
  • You can take plants with you if you move house.
  • You can easily swap duplicate species with other collectors.

Growing fuchsias in containers can be different to growing in-ground in a few ways, including:

  • Soil is likely to dry out more readily.
  • Foliage may have more air movement around it – again, making it more prone to drying out.

For fuchsias, water loss can be a real problem if container plants are not located in a protected place, or attended to frequently. Adding a layer of organic mulch, such as leaf mould or manure, or misting the plants with water regularly are both methods which can be used to alleviate these problems.

The type of potting soil used and type of pot are critical - providing good care is.

 

As Basket Plants

Fuchsias are widely grown in hanging baskets but there are some problems that can arise if they are grown as basket plants. The typical types of problems are much the same as growing them in any container.

It is important the soil doesn’t dry out completely and the foliage does not lose too much moisture from transpiration. Baskets are suited to some climates more than others. For instance, they do not support plant life so well in hot and dry conditions, and strong prevailing winds can make those problems even worse.

A basket fuchsia that is growing in a European spring or summer can be truly spectacular, but a similar basket display when grown over summer in dry inland Australia may see the plants quickly fade and die within days.

 
Standards

Standard fuchsias are plants derived from upright growing species. A standard is one that has been trained to form growth on top of a bare upright stem - much like a standard rose, standard box, or any other standard. Lateral branches are cut off and the uppermost growing tips are encouraged to spread out. These are trimmed to form a rounded sphere on top of the bare stem. The type of standard can be described according to the length of the stem, as follows:

  • Mini Standard - has between 15 and 25cm of stem height before any branching and foliage.
  • Quarter Standard - has 25 to 45 cm height before branching.
  • Half Standard - has 45 to 75cm of height before branching.
  • Full Standard - starts branching at between 75cm and 1 metre.

Weeping standards have arching or drooping foliage hanging down from the main bare stem and are less tightly ball-shaped.

 

Trees & Bushes

As well as standards, upright growing species can be grown as small trees or bushes. When grown like this they can look extremely stunning in large containers, such as wooden barrels, as a centre feature for circular garden beds, or as part of a mixed shrubbery. 

Varieties suitable for pots and general bushes include:

  • Tall – ‘Colossus’, ‘Party Frock’, ‘Nancy Lou’, ‘Sheryl Anne’, ‘Tuonela’, ‘Voodoo’.
  • Short – ‘Cecile’, ‘Cotton Candy’, ‘Lord Byron’, ‘Red Radar’.

 

Hedges

Many of the hardier species can also be gown as attractive hedges in warmer climates where they are best pruned to maintain shape after flowering. Due to the nature of their growth, fuchsias are best suited to informal hedges. The only problem is that fuchsia hedges can look quite sparse over winter when leafless and dormant, however the vibrant summer flower display more than compensates for many gardeners.

 

Fans

Upright forms also lend themselves well to training, especially the bushier types.  Fans look great displayed in pots or against walls. When trained as fans, a series of canes are staked into the soil in a fan shape and the leading stems are tied to them. In order to achieve a fan shape, the tips of the stems should be pinch-pruned by continuously nipping off the tips of the stems with the thumb and forefinger before they have a chance to flower. This encourages the stems to become bushier and provide more growth for the fan shoots.

You need to stop pinch pruning a couple of months before you want the plant to flower. When it does eventually flower, the display will be profuse.      

 

Cascades

Some species are spreading and cascading in habit rather than upright. A cascading basket fuchsia is created by growing a fuchsia with a low, spreading habit in a hanging basket. The foliage of this plant will spread out and hang down from the basket, particularly when its shoots are weighed down with flower blooms.

Cascading fuchsias may also be grown at the edge of raised garden beds, in window boxes, or overhanging larger containers in order to show them off to their greatest effect.

Varieties suitable for hanging baskets or for cascading over a wall include:

  • Singles – ‘Derby Imp’, ‘La Campanella’, ‘Cascade’, ‘Uncle Charlie’.
  • Doubles – ‘Pink Marshmallow’, ‘Snowy Summit’, ‘Lisa’, ‘Fey’, ‘Drama Girl’, ‘Julie Horton’.

 

Groundcovers

The smaller cascading and trailing forms also make excellent groundcover plants in shaded spaces in garden beds. Place them here to add colour to an otherwise drab pocket of the garden. 

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