Continuous Flowering Fuchsias
Few shrubs can rival fuchsias for continuous flowering from spring until autumn. In gardens, these South American species have been almost completely supplanted by man-made hybrids which grow in similar temperatures but offer a vastly increased range of flower sizes, shapes and colours, ranging from tiny bushes barely 30cm (1 ft) high to large shrubs, some erect, some widespreading and some cascading.
For gardeners, fuchsias fall into two main groups. In the first are the hardy fuchsias, suitable for planting permanently out of doors in the milder, and particularly the maritime, parts of Britain. The others can be grown as pot or basket plants in cool greenhouses or outdoors from about late May to late October. In winter most of these will survive provided they do not freeze, but if the temperature drops below about 10°C (50°F) they will lose all or most of their leaves whereas at higher temperatures they will retain many of them or produce new ones so that they are ready to make a quicker start in the spring.
A fuchsia flower consists of a tube, a calyx, a corolla, anthers and pistil, all of which may differ in size, shape and colour. Though the colour range is fairly limited, from white, palest pink, mauve and lavender to orange, scarlet, crimson and deep violet-purple, this still gives you the choice of a vast number of combinations which have been exploited to the full by fuchsia fanciers who have produced hundreds of varieties.
There are also differences in habit, some growing erect and in time becoming quite tall, many well branched and bushy, some arching and some pendulous. Fuchsias can also be readily trained by tying their stems to canes or other supports and pinching out the tips of young shoots to make them branch. By these means it is possible to grow fuschias in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes, or to train them against walls, fences or beneath the rafters of a greenhouse.
The flowering season is long, from spring to autumn under glass and usually from about July to late October outdoors, but varieties vary greatly. To some extent fuchsias are long-day plants’, that is, they usually flower when days are longer than nights, but hybridization and selection have somewhat confused this natural characteristic.
Fuchsias will grow in all reasonably fertile soils in sun or partial shade, but they flower most freely in good light. Under glass they may benefit from a little shading in summer but require none at other times of the year. They can be grown in-based or peat-based potting mixture, should be watered fairly freely in spring and summer, but rather sparingly in winter or scarcely at all if conditions are so cold that they lose all their leaves.
Selected varieties are increased bywhich root quite readily at any time in spring or summer in a propagator or a pot placed inside a polythene bag.
Diseases are rare and the most troublesome pests are capsid bugs, which deform the leaves, and white fly which weakens the plants and disfigures them by encouraging sooty mould. Capsid bugs can be killed by spraying with HCH or diazinon, white fly with pirimiphos methyl or permethrin.