Fuchsias are a species-rich genus. Over 100 game species and varieties are known today. Most of them come from the mountain forests of Central and South America, few species can be found in Tahiti and New Zealand. The fuchsia has been known as a plant genus since 1696. The Frenchman Charles Plumier discovered the first species on his journey to Santo Domingo, now the Dominican Republic. He named her after the botanist Leonhart Fuchs. In the 19th century, the fuchsias then became sought-after ornamental plants in Europe. Also the breeders took care of the fuchsia.
Appearance and growth
The different fuchsia-types differ very much in its appearance. There are low-growing species such as Fuchsia procumbens, which are often used in rock gardens, or fuchsia species such as Fuchsia excorticata, which grow into magnificent trees almost 10 metres tall. Most fuchsia species grow as shrubs, but can also be raised on a trellis.
Fuchsias fascinate with their graceful bellflowers, hundreds of which sit on the bushes. They tolerate shade, are easy to reproduce and can spend the winter – and these are just a few of the reasons why flower ballerinas are so much fun. There is no sign of a decline in flowering, at least not in fuchsia. While other summer flowers already say goodbye in August, their flower bells still dance for a long time in the summer wind. Only when the first frosts threaten, the season of the diligent bloomers comes to an end.
Location and soil
Fuchsias are not only suitable for semi-shade and shady areas, as was simplified in the past. There are varieties that tolerate the sun very well, for example the grape-flowered fuchsias (Triphylla hybrids). In principle, sun compatibility depends on the environment (neighbouring plants, air humidity), on the supply of water and nutrients and on the genetic characteristics of the variety. Fuchsias growing in pots or balcony boxes are best placed in a place with mild morning or late afternoon sun. Noonday sun and heat are problematic. Above all, avoid heating the root ball. Shade vessels that can become warm.
Contrary to popular belief, planted fuchsias also tolerate a sunny location. The plants then develop a stocky growth and flower richer than in a shady place. The prerequisite, however, is that you shade the root area, keep it cool and sufficiently moist. Here a light covering with bark mulch or underplanting with evergreen ground coverers such as three-leaved forest stone, ivy, small periwinkle or fat man helps. By the way, underplanted fuchsias are easier to care for and the dense winter green foliage makes further winter protection unnecessary.
Fuchsias are suitable for use in small groups in the border and at the edge of the grove. You can also combine fuchsias with other perennials, but keep in mind that fuchsias sprout quite late, suitable partners are for example early bloomers such as columbines and ornamental garlic, forest perennials and grasses.
It is best to give the plants water only in the morning or evening as required. Check whether the root ball has dried slightly since the last watering. You should not add a moist root ball. In case of high temperatures and dry weather it is also necessary to spray the plants regularly with water. If the air humidity is too low, the buds atrophy and the leaves fall off prematurely.
Attention: At extreme temperatures the fuchsias leave the leaves hanging as a protection against evaporation, even if the root ball is moist. Do not water now, the roots cannot absorb the water. As soon as the heat subsides, the leaves straighten up again. If the root ball is dry, you can place the plants in a shady place and water them with tempered water. From March to August you should fertilize your fuchsias regularly. A liquid fertilizer that is slightly calibetontone and contains little phosphorus has proved its worth (for example N-P-K 16:9:22). However, only fertilize plants that are completely rooted in the pot. In addition you should not dose the weekly fertilizer application too high, at best you divide the fertilizer application on two pouring procedures. Important: Never fertilize on dry soil or at high temperatures.
Also clean the fuchsias at least once a week, i.e. remove all faded flowers, fallen leaves and especially the ovaries. The fuchsia is one of the most popular balcony plants which, apart from a few varieties, are unfortunately not hardy. If you repot the newly bought or wintered fuchsias in spring, you must be careful not to use too large containers, otherwise the plants will not develop a stable root ball. In general, more frequent repotting is better. In the new pot it should be possible to gently press the fresh soil around the existing root ball with your fingers. Plant five to seven plants on a meter of balcony box, in traffic lights from twenty centimeters in diameter put three plants. For a dense, bushy plant structure, break out the soft, not yet woody shoot tips, because where the shoot tip is missing, two or more side shoots develop. The best time to start flowering is therefore early spring.
The pruning usually takes place in autumn. Only shoots that have grown in the same year are cut. Dead twigs and dried flowers and leaves should also be removed.
Fuchsias must go to winter quarters before the first frost. Remove all flowers and unripe, still soft shoots. For wintering a 5 to 10 degree cold cellar is suitable, which may also be dark, because the plants lose their foliage here. If fuchsias are warmer in winter, they keep their leaves and then need light.
You can grow your own offspring from your favourite fuchsia with cuttings. This works very well not only in spring, but also in August. Cut shoot tips of 7 to 10 centimetres in length. The offshoots are cut above a pair of leaves. Remove the lower leaves and place in a mixture of soil and sand. Put in shade and keep moist. Rooting is also possible in water: simply place the cut shoots in a glass of water. After two weeks roots form.
Picture gallery: New and old varieties
Diseases and pests
Fuchsias are actually quite insensitive to diseases and pests. However, care errors can lead to fungal diseases such as fuchsia rust, mildew or grey mould. In addition, pests such as aphids, white flies, red spiders or weevils can also occur.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch
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I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.