The Fuchsia genus (Fuchsia spp.) consists of about 100 species of plants characterised by pendulous, hanging blossoms and dense, bushy foliage. Fuchsia plants are most commonly grown as potted flowers, though larger varieties such as Fuchsia magellanica may grow to be the size of a shrub or small tree. With proper care, fuchsia plants will reward the gardener with flowers throughout the summer.
Fuchsia plants primarily hail from South America, Central America and Mexico, though some species grow in New Zealand and Tahiti. Hardiness varies depending on species, although in general fuchsias prefer daytime temperatures between 15.5 to 21.1 degrees C and a nighttime temperature about -12.2 degrees C lower. The plant will not flower if temperatures continually exceed 24.4 degrees C. Fuchsia plants dislike heat and humidity and do best in a partial- to full-shade location.
Plant the shrub in a well-draining, fertile soil. Indoor plants do well with a potting mixture that is equal parts potting soil, peat moss, vermiculite and sand. Water regularly during the growing season whenever the soil feels dry, keeping the soil moist to the touch, but not waterlogged. Reduce watering frequency during the autumn to prepare the plant for winter dormancy. Bring potted shrubs indoors during the winter to protect them from winter frosts.
Fertilise the fuchsia plant regularly during the growing season, ideally every two to four weeks. Use a water-soluble complete fertiliser, and water deeply before and after each feeding. To get a bushier, fuller plant, pinch each new shoot after it has produced two sets of leaves. This forces the plant to produce more branches. Fuchsia can be propagated with seeds or softwood cuttings in the spring, or by semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Fuchsia plants are susceptible to several pests, notably whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs and scale. Insects may be controlled with insecticidal soap, and scale can be prevented with a horticultural oil such as neem oil. Disease problems include botrytis blight and rust, although both of these conditions can be prevented by providing good air circulation and by spacing plants apart. Plants grown in hot, arid conditions may fail to bud and flower, or may drop new flowers.
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