The Fuchsia plant is well worth the small amount of effort it takes to grow them. They are a relatively easy plant, and they tolerate drought reasonably well. While you won’t get amazing blooms if you let them dry a little, they will survive.
Fuchsia plants do best if you can shade them from the hottest part of the day, but you don’t have to do this. They also appreciate some shelter from the wind. For these reasons, they are a favorite in hanging baskets. They blend well with smaller flowers like trailing lobelia or other fuchsias in most places.
Fuchsia plants come in a huge array of types. Most of the types are a hybrid type of hardy. The colors range from almost white to electric purple and blood red. The flower resembles a drop earring, with bunches of ruffles in the more hardy types. Other varieties, such as the Boliviana, resemble a trumpet or long bell-type ornament.
A pairing of fuchsia plants with lobelia, common in the northern regions of the U.S.
Types of Fuchsia Plants (and Where to Get Them)
The Fuchsia plant comes in a wide range of styles. The hardy fuchsia is widely propagated in greenhouses. The hardy fuchsia is usually safe to leave outdoors in zones 7-10, but most places people either get a new plant from the greenhouse every year or bring them inside.
Cape Fuchsia Plants.
While you can save your fuchsia seeds and start them indoors every year, they tend to propagate randomly due to cross-pollination. So if you want one that is true to type, your best bet is getting a greenhouse plant.
Rare fuschias like the tree fuchsia may need to be purchased at a specialty or tropical greenhouse. The tree fuchsia is a true species, and it grows in zones 9-10 best.
The willowy fuchsia Boliviana is another plant that is hardy in zones 9–10. It could overwinter inside in colder areas to keep it going. This plant features elongated blossoms with the spring that cluster together and larger leaves. Less frilly than the hardy fuchsia plant, this is another stunner that also attracts hummingbirds.
Other types of fuchsia plant rarer than the commonly seen hardy fuchsia plant are the fuchsia Fulgens, the Paniculata, the Dollar Princess fuchsia (hardy in zones 6-11), the Seventh Heaven fuchsia, the Aurea fuchsia, and the Swingtime fuchsia.. These are a little harder to find, so you may need to look around at specialty greenhouses, dealerships, garden clubs, or even online to find these varieties.
General Fuchsia Care
The Fuchsia genus currently has more than 100 woody trees and shrubs in it. However, the familiar garden fuschia that is widely available in garden centers are usually hybrids that were specifically chosen because they’re fantastic for containers and hanging baskets. In warm climates, this plant can be a perennial, but most people grow them in outdoor containers. You can plant them as annuals and discard them when the first frost of the season hits, or you can bring them indoors and nurse them in bright lights with controlled conditions over the winter.
Even though these plants are slightly fussy about temperature and moisture, they’re relatively easy to grow and keep healthy in container gardens. Most do excellent in full shade or partial sun, but they don’t like to be too hot. They really have dry heat. However, with a consistent watering schedule and humidity levels, the plants are low-maintenance.
In order to encourage repeat blooms, pick off any spent blossoms because flowers will only grow on new growth. They’re a favorite plant of hummingbirds and butterflies. If you live in a warmer climate, you can consider planting one of the shrub-like cultivars. You can train them to get to small tree stature when you plant them in a garden or pot.
If you live in colder climates, these plants can come indoors to continue growing during the colder months, or you can put them into a semi-dormant state by putting them in a dry, dark location until spring comes around again. There are mixed success rates with growing these plants indoors, so don’t be disheartened if you end up growing these plants as annuals instead. .
During the blooming season in spring and summer, these plants have a huge appetite to help encourage ongoing flower production. For the best results, you’ll feed them regularly using a diluted liquid fertilizer, being careful to not put it right on the stems to avoid burning them. There are many available or you can make your own using a combination of seaweed and fish emulsion.
Unlike a lot of traditional plants, fuchsias do best in part shade to deep shade when you grow them outside. They can’t handle full sun or a lot of heat, so the deeper the shade, the better. When you grow these plants indoors, they like a little more light. Place them somewhere that they’ll get bright indirect light over direct sunlight.
Try to keep your plant’s soil consistently moist without saturating it. The soil should also have a very good ratio of organic matter mix in while ensuring it drains well. If you’re growing them as in-ground plants, you want to amend the soil with compost or peat moss before you plant them. Container plants do well if you put them into a peat-based potting mix as long as the pot drains well.
Temperature and Humidity
The temperatures for these plants should ideally stay between 55 and 80° Fahrenheit. There are heat-tolerant cultivars available if you live in warmer climates that can do decently well in temperatures up to 90° Fahrenheit. There are shrub-like varieties available that will survive freezing temperatures without incurring any type of damage.
This plant thrives with good humidity levels, so if you live in a much drier climate, it’s common to have to mist your plants to keep them sufficiently moist. It can be a challenge to keep these plants happy when you grow them indoors through the drier winter months. Ideally, you’ll have to run a humidifier to keep the space around the plant from getting too dry.
The fuschia plant likes moist but not soggy soil. They do best in humid conditions, so if you live in a dry environment, it’s more challenging to keep these plants sufficiently hydrated. It can require much more watering and misting.
Ways to Grow Fuchsia Plants
The Fuchsia plant grows four main ways. They can grow trailing in a container, climbing, upright (as a bush or tree), or as a standard. Some species or hybrids naturally grow in one of the forms.
Upright staked fuchsias. This is one way to start growing a standard.
Growing fuchsia plants gives a lot of reward for the effort. Growing standards is the most time-intensive, but the plants are not too high-maintenance compared to other plants for the amount of bloom you get.
Essentially, you will need to make sure that the plant doesn’t get sunburned, and that it has enough water. This plant does not like bright, full sun conditions. If you stick with the recommended type of potting for the variety you buy and take good climate notes for your area, this is a pretty easy feat.
People run into problems with fuchsia plants when they pot them incorrectly or go on vacation for a while and let the plant dry out.
Some common mistakes when growing fuchsias are as follows.
- Watering Incorrectly for Ground-Planted Fuchsias Versus Potted Fuchsias: Potted fuchsias need more frequent watering. Every other day is best for regular weather. Every day in hot weather and twice a day in really hot weather where there is bright, full sun is ideal. Ground-planted fuchsias should be watered in the morning. This prevents rust.
- Using Soil Amendments: fuchsias should not have any kind of vermiculite or an amendment other than compost. For potted and ground-planted fuchsias, a mixture of half compost and half soil is best. This keeps the soil properly hydrated and the plant fed a little bit better.
- Fertilizing Improperly: potted fuchsias should be fed every couple of weeks in the summer. Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Ground-planted fuchsias should be fed as soon as the leaves start to green up in the spring and new growth begins with the spring.
- Pruning Improperly Will Prevent New Growth: Ground-planted fuchsias should be pruned differently if you are growing a trellised fuchsia versus a regular upright. It is important to not over-prune fuchsias when the fall leaves come, because the stems provide a little heat for the plant. Read on for more specific pruning tips.
Potting and Pruning Fuchsias
Since almost everyone buys their fuchsia plants as a plant, we will assume that you are starting there. You should harden the plant off for 7-10 days before you re-pot it out of the greenhouse. Choose a time when the frost has passed and there is plenty of sun.
- Trailing fuchsias don’t need too much root space, but you will get better blooms with a bigger basket. Of course, you should not choose a basket that will be too heavy for your house. But generally speaking, a basket under 10 inches will dry out too quickly and stunt growth on the plant. Aim for a 10 to 20-inch basket and mix your planting soil about halfway with compost.
- Plant the fuchsia so that the stem sits two inches beneath the soil for best results. Water daily when it is hot, and every two to three days in regular weather. Fuchsias will blossom in the spring without fertilizer, but you will not want to miss the show that comes with a high-nitrogen fertilizer every two to three weeks.
- Upright fuchsias need a pretty deep pot if this is the route you choose to go. Aim for a 3-gallon pot minimum if you want a tree with a strong trunk. Fuchsias can vary by zone, so check each variety to see if it is a good choice for your garden. Growing shrubs and trees upright tends to be a feature of hotter areas, since it can take a while for the plant to grow in. Plant using plenty of compost, with the stem two inches below the surface. Some fuchsias thrive in clay or sandy soil, but it depends on the variety.
Consider tilling the soil to a foot for an initial planting of fuchsia plants. It’s not necessary, but it will make the growth much easier on the plant.
If your fuchsia can be left outside, you will need to mulch heavily (2-3 inches) before frost.
- Climbing fuchsias and standards need more pruning than the standard early pinch and deadheading for hardy fuchsias. Plant with a heavy mix of compost in an area with some shade from the heat. For climbing fuchsias, cut all growth back to a low framework when frost has come. For climbing fuchsias, let buds appear in the spring. Then, cut back old stems and shorten the new ones so that they stick to the area near the trellis.
How to Pinch Prune Fuschia Plants
Pinch pruning is a way of pinching new growth to encourage the plant to form new shoots to get a much fuller look. You do this by:
- Let your young fuschia plant’s stem to grow straight up, and remove all of the side shoots as they start to appear.
- Let your stem to continue on the upright growth pattern.
- Make sure you don’t pull the leaves from the main stem because this can result in slower growth patterns. The leaves give the plants a source of food, so you want to keep them intact for as long as possible.
- As the plant grows, tie back the main stem to a cane to give it more support.
- When your plant reaches eight-inches tall or taller, pinch out the tip of your plant’s stem.
- The plant will slowly start to produce new side shoots on the top, and this will encourage it to form a standard head.
- You can pinch out the new tips of the shoots after they develop between two and four sets of leaves.
- You have to keep pruning until the rounded head of the plant starts to take the correct shape.
- The foliage will start to shed itself over time, but you can carefully remove them without damaging the plant once they’re ready to fall off.
Fuchsia plants are hardy, half-hardy, or annuals depending on the variety. For half-hardy pots and baskets (most varieties grown for these applications are half-hardy), bring the plant inside for winter. A greenhouse is a good place, but you can also bring the plant inside and put it by the window.
Hardy fuchsias that are left outside will need a heavy mulch of leaf, straw, or compost.
Growing Notes: Garden Fuchsias Versus Potted Fuchsias
Garden fuchsias should be planted inside the hole. Leave about four to six inches between the bottom and the top of the hole. Make sure there are also about four to six inches between the edge of the hole and the outer leaves of the plant at planting time. Allow the hole to fill in as the plant grows in.
Potted fuchsias should be given at least a 10-inch pot for hanging baskets. An upright fuchsia will need at least a three-gallon pot with hanging baskets. For multiple plants, you should consider a large barrel. Fuchsias easily grow to over a foot wide for the average small hardy types.
Fuchsia plants are easiest to propagate through stem cuttings taken in the spring.
- Cut off a 2- to 4-inch segment of stem tip, making the cut just above the third pair of leaves.
- Remove the bottom leaves and dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting into a tray or pot filled with a seed-starter mix or a blend of sand, perlite, and peat moss.
- Cover the pot with a loose clear plastic cover and place it in a warm location.
- Roots should develop in three to four weeks, and at this time you can remove the cover.
- When new leaf growth is obvious on the cutting, you can repot the fuchsia in a larger container and move it outdoors.
Potting and Repotting
Fuschias look fantastic in almost any type of container garden. They do well by themselves in a pot, or you can put them into a pot with contrasting or complementary colors. They work particularly well with coleus, lobelia, angel wing begonias, and oxalis.
Pick out a 12 to 16-inch pot, depending on the size of your plant. The goal is to get a container that is one size larger than they had in the nursery. If you’re going to combine smaller plants into one container, you can put two or three specimen plants in four-inch pots in a 10 or 12-inch pot. If you’re going to repot your plant, the following tips can help:
- These plants are susceptible to root rot. So you’ll have to have a fast-draining potting soil with pots that offer very good drainage. Don’t plant it in a pot without any holes in the bottom.
- Allow space between the soil line and the top of the container. Don’t fill the pot to the rim with soil.
- If you have large holes in the bottom of the pot, you should put plastic screens or coffee filters over them before you put in the soil to avoid the soil running out when you water.
Origins and Parts of Fuchsias
Fuchsias mostly originate from South America. There are a few varieties from other hot places like Tahiti, however. There are hundreds of types of hardy fuchsias alone, and over 3,000 types altogether. While it would be impossible to describe them all, there are a few general hallmarks of a fuchsia:
- Sepals: Fuchsias have four outer petals, called sepals. These are often, but not always, a warm to hot pink color.
- Flower Petals: The fuchsia flower petals are ruffled on the double and semi-double flowers. They descend from the sepals in a small ball on most varieties. Some varieties have less visible petals than others. The petals come in a huge selection of colors ranging from white to electric purple.
- Stamen and Pistil: Descending from the flower petals are a set of stamen and a pistil. They give the flower an even more ruffled and delicate look than the petals alone do.
Short, round fuchsias.
Fuchsia Plant Fast Facts
Number of Species: Approximately 100, with over 3,000 varieties. Most are hybrids.
Named for: Leonhart Fuchs, a German botanist.
Soil: Well-drained with compost.
Sun: Full. Minimum is 1/2 day of bright sun.
Fertilizer: High in nitrogen for potted plants. High in phosphorus (15-30-15 is ideal) for plants in the ground.
Basic care: Pruning to low branches in fall. Other pruning depending on whether you are growing a standard or a trellis fuchsia. Water often for potted plants. Water in the mornings for plants in the ground to avoid rust.
For plants in pots, fertilize every two to three weeks in the summer. Fertilize plants in the ground when plants green up in the spring and there is new growth with the spring.
Hardiness: Varies. Generally cold hardy to zone 8. A few varieties are hardy to zone 6.
Common Pests & Diseases
These plants are susceptible to whiteflies, spider mites, and aphids. They can be very troublesome if you bring your plants inside for the winter because they can spread to your other plants. Insecticidal soaps are the best thing you have for controlling these insects, but chemical pesticides can be used.
For greenhouse growers and hot climates, whiteflies can be a huge issue. Whiteflies in the early stages of their development can be held down by looking and removing infected leaves, hosing them down with water sprays, and vacuuming up adults. Insecticidal soaps or oils like neem oil can reduce but won’t eliminate the populations. Don’t forget to look at the underside of leaves.
Ideally, you’ll test all of your sprays first because some of the tender flowers and leaves get burned very easily. Fuchsia gall mite is a microscopic mite that sucks the plant juices while injecting a poison, and it’ll cause your plant to produce crippled and gnarled growth. Leaves, stems, and flowers swell and get galled or hairy, and within these galls, the mites will breed and live while being protected from predators.
Rust is a cool weather disease that is typically worst in the fall months. Give your plants a lot of room for air movement between and around them. Pick off any affected leaves you see and destroy them, and don’t water overhead. Doing so will encourage spore germination. Give your plants more sun, and try to get cultivars that are less prone to developing rust. The first ones to fall to rust tend to be orange-flowered varieties.
Training Fuschia Plants
You can train fuschia plants to grow up items like trellises, but you have to take some steps to ensure that they grow correctly, starting when the plant is very young. We’ve divided the process up into early and later stages, and you can follow these steps to train your plant.
The first thing you have to do is buy a plant that is in a three to five-inch pot. This will give you enough leeway to start training the plant when it’s still small. Put a small plant support into the middle of your fuschia’s top and loose tie the plant to it. Turn the pot a quarter of the way every day to encourage even and straight growth. Not doing so will cause a crooked stem because it’ll reach for the sun.
As the plant grows, make a point to pinch off the side shoots. You should carefully avoid larger leaves on the stem, and only pinch off the small shoots next to the leaves. When your plant gets big enough and you see roots starting to come out of the pot, repot it. A root-bound plant will attempt to produce flowers, and it’s too early for this to happen.
Stop pinching off the side shoots when your plant reaches around 17-inches tall. Allow the side shoots to grow on the next four sets of leaves the plant produces. Pinch the lowest side shoot after more than four side shoots grow above it. Continue pinching off the lower side shoots while still allowing the four to grow on the top of the plant.
Pinch the growing tip at the top of the plant when the plant reaches around three feet tall to encourage a crown or head to develop. Pinch out any additional growing tips from the stems at the top of the plant as the crown starts to develop whenever you see two pairs of leaves. This will give the head a rounded shape. Remove all of the leaves once your plant reaches six months old and stake it with a strong support to keep it from sustaining damage due to windy conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fuchsia by Mike Beaumont / CC BY-SA 2.0 Since this can be a slightly finicky plant to grow, it’s common for many people to have questions when it comes to growing them and keeping them healthy. We’ve rounded them up for you below.
1. Will fuchsias grow back every year?
Fuschias are tender perennials. You can grow the plants outside if you live in a very warm planting zone, and they’ll come back each year. However, if you live in chiller climates, you can grow these as an annual if you plant them outside after your frost risk is gone.
2. Do fuschias like shade or sunny conditions?
These are wonderfully versatile plants that can grow in partial shade or sun in any moist, fertile, and well-drained soil. However, your plant does like some shade during the hottest part of the day, and you should also shelter it from colder winds.
3. Should you deadhead a fuschia plant?
These plants will drop their spent flowers naturally, so you don’t have to deadhead them unless you want to keep things neat. However, when you drop your flowers, they leave behind seed pods. These things discourage new growth of flowers and take energy.
The fuschia plant is a colorful plant to grow and have in your garden or in your home. They can get decently sized with the correct growing conditions, and you can make them survive all year round.