Fuchsias are 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 drought a little, they will survive.
Fuchsias 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 most places.
Fuchsias 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 flowers resemble 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 fuchsias with lobelia, common in the northern regions of the U.S.
Types of Fuchsias (and Where to Get Them)
Fuchsias come 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.
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 that cluster together and larger leaves. Less frilly than the hardy fuchsias, this is another stunner that also attracts hummingbirds.
Other types of fuchsias rarer than the commonly seen hardy fuchsias 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.
Fertilized trailing fuchsias.
Ways to Grow Fuchsias
Fuchsias grow 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 fuchsias 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. 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 fuchsias when they pot them incorrectly or go on vacation for a while and let the plant get dried 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 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.
- 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 fuchsias 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 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 fuchsias. 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.
Check out a pruning of fuchsias here. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://youtu.be/fnAIJVXzVsc” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Fuchsias 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. For multiple plants, you should consider a large barrel. Fuchsias easily grow to over a foot wide for the average small hardy types.
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.
- Petals. The fuchsia 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 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 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 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.
Hardiness: Varies. Generally cold hardy to zone 8. A few varieties are hardy to zone 6.