Friday, November 29, 2013

How do I care for Fuchsias?

Click on this image to see a slide show of this week's Spec. Load.  
I purchased a Scotsburn Fuchsia (Fuchsia Trailing) at a local hardware. It's still in the hanging pot, but considering putting it in the garden. It will be somewhat shaded beside a fence. Any suggestions on ground prep, timing etc. Or even it's a good idea, or not?
cheers & thanks

Growing Fuchsia,
Fuchsia were discovered in the Caribbean and most species come from Central & South America, so let's keep the plant's origin in mind.
Position. Warm and sunny but with protection from extreme summer sun is the ideal. I like the idea of a fence or wall facing north, this provides warmth and wind protection but with a tree or eave to provide protection from the hottest afternoon sun.  They are plants that don't like to be water stressed so make sure they are well mulched and they are watered as required.

Preparation.  Basic soil preparation is all.  Turn the soil to 40cm deep and add some compost and animal manure for fertilizer, that's not essential, just good practice.  Mulch is essential, but don't heap mulch against the plant's stem as that can cause rot. Water the plant in very thoroughly. Liming and fertilizing are only really necessary if the garden has been used intensively.

Timing. We like to plant in the early spring and early summer, but that's more about having the plants flower when we want. They can be planted any time of year but keep in mind the stress you put the plant under in high summer and mid winter.  The hottest part of the year is best avoided. In winter the plants will be essentially dormant, so it's hard to do too much wrong other than over feeding when the roots are not going to take up the nutrient which can lead to burning.

Fuchsia is a tough and versatile plant, that's part of the reason it is so popular all around the world. In Melbourne they go quite dormant over winter and drop some foliage but they bounce back promptly in spring and will flower from October to May.  We find it best to give them a trim in the early Spring as the shoots are just showing, don't be afraid to cut them back quite hard to maintain a nice compact shape. They don't suffer many pests or diseases but Rust can be an issue in cold, damp conditions.  If you find orange Rust pustules on the foliage the best treatment is to remove and clear away the diseased foliage and make sure the plant is growing vigorously when Spring comes around.

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