is a genus of eye-catching, vibrant plants that bloom all summer long with glorious teardrop-shaped flowers in a variety of vivid colors.
What Is Fuchsia?
, pronounced “few-shuh,” is genus of deciduous, perennial shrubs in the Onagraceae family.
USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, depending on the variety, while hardy fuchsias, such as many hybrids and cultivars of , can thrive outdoors year-round in a slightly cooler range of growing zones, from 6 to 10.
Many people can’t resist having the plant around, even if they don’t live in the right climate for it to survive the winter. Growing it as an annual is an option, but it’s also suited to containers and can be brought indoors to overwinter.
Cape fuchsia, x .
Don’t confuse plants of this genus with cape fuchsias ( spp.), several species of flowering evergreen shrub native to southern Africa. We’ll cover these in another article.
Cultivation and History
The majority of fuchsia plants are native to South America, with most of the types available for purchase today come from Chile and Argentina.
passionate study of plants.
Fuchsia doesn’t need too much encouragement to reproduce. Keep in mind that some methods of starting new plants are easier than others.
avoid damping off.
The seeds need light to germinate, so sprinkle them lightly on the soil and press them in place.
Moisten the soil and place the containers in a warm area that’s at least 65°F, near a window where they will get indirect light. Use a heating mat if necessary, as the ideal temperature for germination is 70-75°F. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
Then it’s time to start a new gardening project, such as building some raised beds, while you wait one to four months for the seedlings to emerge. When each seedling has two true leaves, thin them out to one plant per cell.
When plants reach six inches tall, and all risk of frost has passed, harden them off over the course of about two weeks.
You can do this by bringing the tray outside to a protected location with indirect light for 30 minutes on the first day and then bringing it back indoors. Add 30 minutes each day until it can stay outside all day long.
Propagating from a softwood fuchsia cutting couldn’t be easier. You can take cuttings at any time of year.
Plants require rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Test your soil and amend it if necessary, particularly if you have heavy clay or sandy soil. You don’t want the plant to be in standing water or to dry out too quickly.
How to Grow
One of the common misconceptions about fuchsia is that it doesn’t handle sun well. That’s not true!
sun in hotter areas where full sun paired with high temperatures can cause more of a strain to plants and dry them out more quickly.
layer of mulch will, too. If you’re growing in a container, keep it in a place where the afternoon sun won’t hit the container directly.
jump in with the watering hose to perk it back up, check the soil. If it feels moist to the touch, don’t add water. If you can move it, take it to a cooler, shaded area and mist it with water to help cool it down.
If the soil is dry, give it a good soak of water. After an hour or so, you can also give it a spritz with a water bottle or the mist setting on a hose nozzle.
Choose a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus to promote root and flower growth. Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster 15-30-15 (NPK), available at Home Depot, is a good option.
Fertilize every two weeks when the plant is in bloom.
If your plant isn’t blooming, feed it with a balanced 18-18-18 fertilizer. Don’t ever apply fertilizer when the soil is dry or if the plant is wilted.
Hardy fuchsias growing in the ground can be fertilized every two to four weeks with 18-18-18 during the growing season.
Slow fertilizing to once a month starting in October and stop when plants are dormant over the winter months. You can start fertilizing again when your plant shows signs of new growth.
Some people toss fuchsia at the end of the summer after it has finished blooming.
You can also take your plants indoors to overwinter them in pots and they’ll return in the spring better than ever. We’ll cover this in a separate article in more detail.
Fuchsia has some specific needs, but once you know what they are, you can keep this plant happy without too much effort.
- Keep the soil moist but not wet. The top half inch shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely between waterings.
- Plants can handle full sun so long as they don’t get too hot. Put them in part sun or part to full shade if temps climb above 70°F.
- This plant has high nutritional requirements. Feed it regularly.
Pruning and Maintenance
You need to deadhead these plants to encourage continual blooming. Otherwise, the pollinated flowers turn into fruits.
You can eat the fruit, but allowing them to develop will also mean the end of blossom time.
Species and Cultivars to Select
Be aware that if you want to enjoy the fuchsia berries, single-flowered cultivars usually produce better fruit.
With thousands of hybrids and cultivars to choose from, you’ll need to decide whether you want a trailing type to spill out of pots on your patio, or a hardy upright variety to plant in the garden.
And then you’ll need to choose from the dazzling array of colors!
You can learn more about the different varieties of fuchsia in this guide. (coming soon!)
Hardy fuchsia () is a favorite among many home gardeners because it lives up to its name. It can handle a freeze and a little bit of dry soil won’t send it into a death spiral.
I’ve heard of people keeping it outdoors in even colder climates, though you’ll need to be extremely liberal with the mulch.
Red has deep red and purple flowers. It can grow up to six feet tall with a spread of three feet at maturity, and you can purchase plants from Direct Gardening.
‘Dollar Princess’ is another hardy option, a bushy shrub with incredible pink and purple double flowers with full, ruffled blossoms.
Managing Pests and Disease
Here’s the good news: deer and rabbits avoid fuchsia. You don’t have to worry about these fuzzy critters nibbling on your plants.
The bad news is, bugs aren’t afraid to take a bite. There are a few diseases to look out for, too.
Insect infestations can damage your plants and leave them vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infection.
Aphids are particularly bothersome for plants growing indoors, but they can also attack outdoor plants. There are multiple types of aphids that will feed on these plants, most notably the potato aphid ().
These bugs use their sucking mouthparts to draw out the juices from plants. They leave behind honeydew, which attracts ants and encourages mold. Plants can become wilted and yellow.
To start, spray your plants with a blast of water to knock the aphids loose. If that doesn’t do the job, sprinkle your plants with flour to constipate them.
You can also spray with a product containing neem oil or insecticidal soap if the first two options don’t work to solve the problem.
Fuchsia Gall Mites
Fuchsia gall mites () are nearly invisible to the naked eye, but the damage they leave behind isn’t. They cause flowers and shoots to become disfigured and swollen.
To control the problem, prune away infected branches to an inch below the damage.
You’ll have to keep at it, but eventually you should be able to prune out all of the plant material that has been affected by the mites.
Also, be sure to wash and sanitize your tools every single time you work on the plant, because mites are easily transmitted by gardening gloves, pruners, and other gardening implements.
Apply an insecticidal soap following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This won’t kill all the mites, but along with pruning, it can help you to get things under control.
Whiteflies are common, and a pain to get rid of. There are dozens of species that attack plants, both indoors and out. However, if you are diligent, it’s possible to be victorious against this foe.
Mix a cup of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of dishwashing liquid and three cups of water. Mix well and spray plants daily until the infestation is gone.
The spray must come in contact with the bugs to kill them, so keep an eye out and spray all parts of the plant.
If you keep aphids away and are cautious about watering, you can generally avoid the diseases that most commonly attack this plant. Still, there are a few things you should watch out for.
This disease is caused by the fungus . It likes low temps and high moisture – just like fuchsia does.
If your plant gets this disease in the spring, it can cause the flower buds to be aborted. It can also cause yellowing of the leaves and may cause leaves to drop off. You’ll often see brown, decayed areas on the leaves and stems.
Remove any infected parts of the plant and in humid conditions, make sure you’re only watering at the base, not on the leaves. Water in the morning so plants have time to dry during the day.
Damping off is caused by a variety of species of fungi ( spp., spp., and spp.), which can cause seeds to fail to germinate or seedlings to wilt, become water-soaked, and even die off entirely. If an affected seedling does survive, the plant will likely never be healthy and robust.
The first step is to try your best to avoid it. You can do this by cleaning your tools and pots before planting and use only fresh potting soil.
Keep whiteflies and aphids away, and keep seedlings at around 70°F. Don’t fertilize seedlings.
Finally, if you do notice signs of this disease, dispose of the seedlings and the soil, and sterilize your tools and containers before using them again.
Fuchsia rust is caused by the fungus . At first, you’ll notice leaves starting to turn yellow or brown with rusty pustules will appear on the undersides. The leaves will begin to shrivel up and fall off the plant.
If you notice this happening, prune away any infected leaves. Thin plants out so they get better air circulation and only water at the base of plants.
These plants have a variety of uses in the garden.
Upright types can even be trained as bonsai.