Growing Hardy Fuchsia
Fuchsia’s are out and ready to burst into bloom! If you’ve never grown a Fuchsia, this should be the year to try. They are great in the ground, in containers, or hanging baskets for uniquely beautiful blooms all season long. Here are a few tips to keep your Fuchsia’s looking their best:
For the garden: Amend a clay loam soil to a mix of about (40%) garden compost, (20%) ¼-10 gravel and (40%) native soil. A top dressing of garden mulch of 1” to 2” is always recommended . NOTE: Be certain that the compost is not directly in contact with the base of the plant. Fertilize in early spring with a slow release fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous than nitrogen or use a well rooted cow or chicken manure For containers: Use a good potting mix such as “Black Gold” and then add up to (40%) native soil. NOTE: Good drainage is important, so if you have very heavy clay definitely reduce the percentage native soil) Fertilize either with a slow release fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous than nitrogen or a liquid feed. Soil PH: For best performance fuchsias prefer slightly acid to neutral soil.
“The importance of light in the growing of fuchsias is not generally discussed when considering fuchsia culture. The notion that fuchsias are “shade plants” is actually erroneous. Not many fuchsias will tolerate deep shade.”(Fuchsia Culture—The American Fuchsia Society) In our area fuchsias need at least morning sun and in most cases they perform best in full sun.
Fuchsias bloom on new wood so pruning is an important aspect of fuchsia culture. Fuchsias are very tolerant of pruning and may be cut back in a way that will make us cringe.
For the garden: Fuchsias should be pruned after the danger of the last frost. These plants are photo-periodic and early pruning can delay emergence from dormancy. When pruning plan on leaving a good framework to support the new years growth. If fuchsia branches have been frost damaged than prune them to the ground as they will perform poorly if at all. For containers: For fuchsias, heavy pruning is necessary to keep the plant in bounds and to promote the growth of blooming wood. Pinching of the leading growth tips for hanging fuchsias is important to keep the plants more compact and less straggly looking. Each year fuchsias should be removed from their containers and root pruned by half. This is an excellent time to replace depleted soil with new potting mix.
We are very lucky in our area to have a limited amount of pests that attack fuchsias. In the garden slugs can be a problem so bait for them especially early in the season. The fuchsia mite that is such as problem in California is really not a problem here in our gardens but for container grown it is important to keep a look out for it. An application of dormant oil spray is a good idea to kill any insect eggs that have been attached to the bark.
Fuchsia appreciate and need moist soil during the growing season to perform well. Let them dry out and they will sulk and in containers the plant can be severely damaged or killed. For containers drip irrigation is a very good solution for keeping your plants healthy and happy.
Still have questions? Come to our free class Sunday May 10th at 1pm with Will Gibbs, fuchsia expert of the Northwest!