Basic Hints for Fuchsia Cultivation
By Bill Gilbert of Birmingham and District Fuchsia Society
The soft current growth from young plants is the best material to use to achieve good quality cuttings. If no bottom heat is available then April, May and June are the best months to take cuttings. If you have a propagator capable of supplying 55-60°F, cuttings can be taken at any time of the year.
The cutting should be trimmed with a sharp knife just below a leaf joint and should consist of one or two pairs of leaves plus the growing tip. Any brand of rooting medium can be used but many growers use equal parts moss peat and vermiculite. Insert the cutting about 1/4" deep into the compost, do not remove any leaves, then cover with a plastic bag or plastic cover. Place in semi-shade and rooting should take between 14 and 21 days. Each batch of cuttings should be labeled giving the variety and date of insertion.
When cuttings have rooted move them into a 2" or 2½” pot using a compost of your choice. Either a loam or peat based compost will be alright but having made your choice you are advised to use it throughout your potting programme.
When your rooted cuttings have made three pairs of leaves, the growing tip can be removed, the plant will then send out side shoots from each loaf axil, which in time can also be 'stopped' to produce a bush type plant.
Growing a Standard Fuchsia
If you wish to grow a standard type plant, do not stop the plant until the length of stem is either 6-10", 10-18", 18-30" or 30-42". These sets of sizes are for stem length only. To produce the head of your standard, grow a further three or four sets of leaves before the tip is removed. A standard fuchsia is best described as a bush on a stick so stopping for shape is as for a bush type plant. It is important that standards should not become pot bound, so as soon as the roots reach the sides of the pot, move the plant into a pot 1" larger. All side shoots from leaf axils should be removed as soon as they are large enough to handle in order to encourage the growth upward. Do not remove the leaves from the stem until your standard fuchsia has forced it's head. It is important to give the stem some support. Insert a cane long enough to reach right into the head of your plant. Place ties as required to keep the stem straight, taking care not to tic them too tight.
Planting up Baskets
Fuchsias of a trailing variety should be used for growing in hanging baskets, wall baskets or hanging pots. The plants should be in at least a 2" pot before being planted in their final containers. February onwards is the usual time for planting up. A full basket of 16" will require five plants, four placed around the edge and one in the centre. The basket can be lined with sphagnum moss or a sheet of polythene, the latter gives more room for compost, which should be peat based to save weight. A few holes punctured in the polythene about two inches from the base will give drainage and also form a reservoir of moisture.
The planting procedure for a wall basket is the sane as a full basket, a 16" half basket should take three plants. For hanging pots, one to three plants may be used depending on pot size. For all types of hanging containers the stopping programme is the same as a bush type plant.
Feeding Your Plants
All plants, once rooted, should be fed with a balanced fertiliser. For current growth a fertiliser high in nitrogen should be used such as CHEMPAK No.2. This is used in a diluted form every time your plants need watering using ¼ level tea-spoon of fertiliser to 2 gallons of water. When your plants start producing buds change to CHEMPAK No.3, this is a balanced feed and will give the blooms good colour and help ripen the wood of your plants.
For permanent outdoor planting of fuchsias, hardy varieties should be used. Well rooted plants in at least a 3" pot are required. In the Midlands, June is the best time to plant cut hardy fuchsias. Normal ground preparation having teen completed a shallow depression of 3" is taken out. The plant should be watered prior to planting and having been taken from its pot, should be planted with the level of the compost at the bottom of the depression. The soil free the depression is then replaced. This will give the root ball some insulation against frost. At the end of the season your hardy plants will drop all their leaves and look bare and uninteresting. DO NOT be tempted to cut off the dead stems but wait until the plants start to grow again in the Spring, you can then prune as hard as you wish.
Plants in the greenhouse respond to humidity. To achieve this, gravel or something similar is spread about 1" deep on your staging and kept moist. To maintain even growth, turn your plants about a third every few days. Every plant should be inspected at least once a week for pasts and diseases. Develop this habit and you will escape any aphid or white fly infection. Do not grow too many varieties and limit the number of plants that you grow, this way you will get to know the likes and dislikes of your chosen few and your plants will respond.
For more detailed information. you are invited to join the Birmingham and District Fuchsia Society, where you will meet friendly enthusiasts who are vary willing to assist, advise and demonstrate the finer points of fuchsia cultivation.
The Society meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month with the exception of December, when it's the first Tuesday, at The Ward End and Washwood Heath Conservative Club, Maitland Hall, Washwood Heath Road, Ward End, Birmingham. Meetings begin at 8pm and finish around 10pm.
As with all these events, please check with their web site or email them, address below, before you go to make sure these dates, times and venues are still current.
You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org when they will answer any questions you might have.