Fuchsias are grown for their elegant flowers that dangle like tiny dancers from the stems. Fuchsia have several hardiness levels and they come in a variety of growth habits. Most gardeners are familiar with the drooping type of fuchsia featured prominently in the hanging basket. There are upright and bushy fuchsias, as well as some large and hardy types, called Cape fuchsia. Fuchsia will produce more blooms and have a better growth habit with pruning in midspring.
There are 122 named Fuchsia species native to Mexico, Central and South America and Tahiti and New Zealand. Fuchsias actually come in many colours including a variety of pinks and roses, hues of lavender, yellow, white and cream. The blooms are the obvious identifying characteristic, with their ruffled petals in layers and accenting colours. The shape of the plant varies, but the plants bloom in early summer and begin to produce leaves in early spring. Fuchsia are suited for semishade to full sun locations and have bell shaped flowers.
Most fuchsias will need to be overwintered indoors because they are not winter hardy. The plant needs to be brought indoors when the shorter days of fall begin to slow the bloom production. The plant enters a semidormant period and should be brought inside before temperatures plummet. When plants are brought indoors, they should go into a cool 45 to 55 degree Fahrenheit area with low light. Taper off the watering until spring. Hardy fuchsia should be buried in the ground and covered around with 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch. In very early spring, pull away the mulch from the plant and prune the fuchsia.
Time for Pruning
Fuchsias grow off new wood so it is important to prune them very early in the season before the flower buds begin to form. Mid-March is an average time to prune. Pruning can be done earlier in zones where the plant was overwintered outdoors and where the temperatures are temperate. Pruned tissue should not be exposed to freezing temperatures since cut ends are delicate. In some areas it is a good idea to check when the date of the last expected freeze will be and don't prune until after that time. The ideal pruning time should correspond to warming temperatures of 12.8 to 15.6 degrees Celsius, which spur the plant to begin producing new tissue.
How to Prune Fuchsia
Fuchsia can handle and even thrive after a hard prune. Because the plant blooms off of the new season's growth, pruning is a crucial step to encouraging the flowers. Hanging plants should be cut back to the edges of the pot or to within 4 to 6 inches of the centre of the plant. Upright fuchsia are cut to 6 to 10 inches high, and each cane needs to have two or three nodes or bumps on the wood. Very sharp pruning implements are important to prevent damage to the wood, and clean sanitised blades will prevent fungus and disease introduction.
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