Fuchsias produce colourful, exotic-looking blossoms. In most parts of the country, they grow as potted plants, because they do not tolerate frost. Place pots indoors year-round, or grow them outdoors in summer and inside in winter. The plants go semidormant in the winter months, often appearing dead, although they are only resting in anticipation of the spring growth period. Cutting back fuchsias ensures they put on new, healthy growth in spring and prevents disease organisms from making a home in the dead foliage.
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Cut back the fuchsia when you bring it indoors for winter or when the plant's growth begins to slow in mid- to late-fall. Cut the stems back to 6 inches with clean shears, then dispose of the removed plant materials.
Water the dormant fuchsia throughout the winter when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil feels dry, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Some weak, new growth may appear during the dormant period.
Prune away the weak winter growth with your shears, cutting the plant back to the 6-inch height again. Fuchsias flower only on new spring growth, so severe pruning does not affect the summer blooming period.
Resume regular watering and fertiliser treatments after cutting back in spring. Water when the soil surface begins to feel dry and fertilise every four weeks with a flowering houseplant food.
Pinch off the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of each stem once it grows in its first set of spring leaves, which encourages branching and full growth. Pinch back each new stem the fuchsia produces throughout spring and summer, until one month before the first frost and dormancy.
Tips and warnings
- Sterilise shears in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water before cutting back. Sterilising helps prevent the spread of disease and insects among your houseplants.
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