It’s hard to beat fuchsias for continuous production of bright, colourful flowers. They’re a superb choice if you need some last-minute colour before a barbecue – you’d be hard pushed to find anything better for a patio pot.
There are two types of fuchsia – tender and hardy. Hardy ones are definitely the easier to grow because they don’t need to be protected from frost. They form shrubby bushes that drip with flowers from mid-summer until the first frosts. There’s one important thing to note, though: hardy fuchsias are only hardy if they’re planted and well-established in the ground before the onset of winter. If you grow them in pots their roots are vulnerable and they may succumb to cold.
Tender fuchsias need somewhere frost-free over winter so won’t survive if you leave them planted outdoors or in containers outside. But these fuchsias are the ones with the biggest, blowsiest flowers – like full, flouncy ballerina tutus – so if you can protect them, they’re worth growing. Or just grow them as annual bedding plants and wave them cheerfully off to the compost heap after they’ve given you weeks of flowers! The other option is to take cuttings, which are much easier to overwinter on a windowsill indoors, to preserve your stock from year to year.
Deadheading will ensure flowers keep coming. If you don’t remove the fading flower heads the plants will start to produce berries and stop forming new buds. Just be careful when deadheading fuchsias that produce multiple flowers from the same point such as ‘Empress of Prussia’. Perfectionists cut each faded flower off with nail scissors to avoid damaging any adjacent buds!
Feed them, too, to make sure plants have enough nutrients to keep producing flowers. Multi-purpose compost in containers has enough food for a few weeks and if you’ve added slow-release fertiliser, this will be extended for a few months. If not, supplement with a weak mix of a fertiliser such as MiracleGro every time you water – and look forward to fabulous fuchsias for months!
MUST-BUY PLANT: Lavatera
EVERY DAY: Lavatera arborea
This pretty shrub with grey-green foliage produces clusters of silky pink flowers in summer.
EXTRA-SPECIAL: Lavatera arborea ‘Variegata’
A superb form with green and white variegated foliage and deep pink flowers. Seed tends to come true.
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