Fuchsias â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ full of grace with flowers in splendid colours, a long flowering period and thousands of varieties to choose from. This is why Fuchsias make such good garden plants.
In the 17th-century the Fuchsia was discovered in the Dominican Republic. It was named after a well-known botanist of that time, Leonhart Fuchs. Other varieties grow in the wild in Central and South America and New Zealand. In those countries the plants are pollinated by the humming bird that hovers while taking the nectar from the dangling flowers.
By cross-pollinating the wild varieties there are now over 8ooo different varieties of garden plants. They vary in colour from orange, red, purple to white. These types are not hardy and are usually grown in pots. The Chilean Fuchsia magellanica is the only type that is reasonably hardy and suitable as a border plant in Scotland. It grows out to a 1,5 metre high shrub.
Fuchsias are easy plants to care for.Â They will give pleasure for years to come.Â They thrive anywhere, in pots and window-boxes, even in shaded spots but when possible, choose a sheltered location, away from wind and full sun. When fuchsias are in full flower, regularly remove the dead flowers, plus the seed ball.Â The plant will then continue to flower all summer long between June and October. Fuchsias are available as standard, hardy and frost tender.Â All Standard varieties, even those of a normally hardy variety, must be treated as frost tender.
Fuchsias like fertile, quite acidic soil that is not too dry. Use plastic pots to prevent the soil from drying out. To encourage fabulous flowers, the plants need plant food on a weekly basis during the growing period. The easiest way to do this is by adding liquid fertilizer to the water. Fuchsias tend to get plagued by spider mite, white fly and aphids. Sprays to kill off these pests are widely available. Or try cutting fly paper into squares and sticking these onto ice- lolly sticks. Push these into the soil and the creatures will go for the yellow paper instead of the flowers.
Fuchsias must be moved to a frost-free place before the first frost. Cut the plants back to about half their size and remove all of the foliage. They can be left in their pots and placed in a frost-free place at about 5Â°C. The soil can be quite dry but the root ball should never dry out completely. Another method is to dig them in. Dig a hole about 60 cm deep and put a layer of turf in the bottom. Place the plant pots in here, quite close together. Fill the hole in again and cover it with plastic. In April the plants can be dug out and re-potted or planted in the garden. In spring all branches can be cut back to just above the ground. The plants will look dreadful, but before long they will sprout again and provide you with flowers throughout the summer.