Fuchsias give a splash of colour to gardens and patios with their colourful blossoms and green leaves in many parts of the UK. They are found as shrubs and trailing plants and come in over 100 different varieties, each with a different tolerance to low temperatures.
This long-flowering plant earns its place in any summer garden with exquisite flowers ranging from pale and slender to vibrant doubles. Pruning is simple when you know the right time to do it. From your bay trees, jasmine, cherry trees and magnolias to this one! Keep on reading to learn when and how to prune Fuchsias.
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It is a type of shrub native to Central and South America. Charles Plumier, a French botanist, discovered them growing in the Caribbean in the 1700s. He named the plant after Leonard Fuchs, a German botanist from the previous century.
The outer petals are sepals, which protect the flower petals beneath them. These are often purple in colour (to attract hummingbirds), but breeding has resulted in a wide range of colour combinations.
The blossoms themselves, as well as the little purple berries that follow, are both delicious. The blossoms can be crystallised and used to garnish cakes and sweets, and certain species’ fruits have a citrusy, peppery flavour and can be used to make jam.
They can be cultivated as solitary shrubs, climbers, informal hedges, or standards, as well as bedding plants in pots and hanging baskets for patio displays, depending on the type.
The flowers bloom all summer and come in a wide range of colours, including white, candy pink, magenta, purple, and red. Golden or variegated foliage, as well as purple or red-tinged leaves, can be found in some types.
When is the right time to prune your Fuchsia plant?
Shrubs that bloom after mid-summer develop flowers near the end of the previous growing season. Therefore, trimming in the early spring allows new growth to mature and flower in the same year. Regular pruning in the winter can result in frost damage to young plants.
Upright/bush types should be pruned in the spring too, when the stems are to be cut down. When the new buds begin to break in late spring, cut out the oldest stems of climbing ones and decrease the remaining stems to limit their vigorous development to the available space.
How to prune your Fuchsia plant step-by-step
Hardy plants that are kept outside in the garden centre throughout the winter should be left untouched. Allowing the old top growth to remain in place throughout the colder months will help to safeguard the crown of the plant. It also lowers the danger of disease transmission through cut wounds.
Once new growth appears, trim your hardy Fuchsias. Leave it until all risk of frost has passed in colder parts of the country. Cut back every stem to a pair of leaf buds around 7 cm to 10 cm above the ground level with sharp secateurs to avoid harm. Here is how to do it:
1. Use snips or hand shears
Shears and snips can be found at your local garden store or online. If you want a better grip on the shears, put on gardening gloves. They can usually be cut with a sharp pair of household scissors too. Just make sure they’re clean first.
Before and after cutting each plant, sanitise your tools with rubbing alcohol. This helps to keep bacteria and disease from spreading.
2. Start pruning after the last frost has passed
The frozen root systems will be protected by the dead branches. You can remove the branches after the last frost date, which should be in late April or early May, depending on your location.
Before you remove the old branches, you will notice new spring growth beneath them.
3. Remove any dead or side shoots with a 45-degree cut
Snip the branch near the plant’s root or where the wood is in good condition. Leave the darker-coloured wood alone and remove the lighter-coloured or fading part.
Make your cut immediately below the break if a branch is broken. Water will run off the stem more easily if the cuts are performed at an angle, preventing fungal diseases.
The leaves on the branches will turn brown and wither, while any new growths will have green leaves.
4. Remove one-third of the healthy branches
To avoid sickness, do your cut at a 45-degree angle. Cutting back will encourage more healthy development and keep your plants at a consistent size.
This should only be done with growth from the previous year. The current season’s growth, if it exists at all, will be minor.
Tender plants should be pulled from the ground or pots and stored in a cool, frost-free location, such as a cool greenhouse, porch, or conservatory in autumn. Remove any dead or unhealthy growth, stop watering, and cut back by half to keep the plant healthy. Make sure to follow the steps below:
1. Remove any branches that are obstructing the growth of other plants
Cut back yours to keep them contained in their space. Plants that are crowded together will compete for light and nutrients, resulting in weak growth.
2. To encourage branching, cut the growing tips of stems
If you leave the end of each new branch on your plant, it will continue to grow outwards. Make your cut just above the knobby places on the stem where the leaves develop, also known as a node.
Your plant will flower later in the season, but it will produce more flowers for a longer period of time. Long branches can become overburdened with leaves and blooms, causing them to break in severe winds.
3. Cut nodes with two leaves above them
When leaf nodes are trimmed back, they break into two or three independent branches, each of which produces more flowers. Make your cut by counting up from the main stem to the second or third node with two leaves.
Each node’s leaves will grow on the opposite side of each other. As a result, additional branches will sprout.
4. Cut Fuchsia hedges to a regular height and width
Remove any spindly branches that have sprouted within the bush. This improves the movement of air through the plant and helps to prevent fungal illness.
Maintain the shape and cleanliness of your hedges. To trim a wide area in a short period of time, use a larger set of hedge shears.
Tips and warnings about pruning Fuchsia plants
Proper care for the plant is incredibly important. Consider the following:
- Dead blooms often fall off on their own, but deadheading on a regular basis will guarantee that the plant continues to bloom.
- Slugs are rarely a problem for this plant, but vine weevil is a common pest, especially if they’re grown in containers. Adult weevils eat notches in the leaves, but it’s the white grubs that cause the most harm. They feed on underground plant roots and can kill the plant before the problem is even noticed.
- In August, use a biological nematode control (which you can get online), and some other chemical remedies might also be used. Just remember to always read the label before using something.
- In the UK, the Fuchsia gall mite is a relatively new pest. The blooms are malformed or do not develop, and any new shoots will be bloated or discoloured. Such a pest won’t destroy the plant, but it won’t make it look very nice.
- Some varieties, such as Fuchsia Magellanica, are more vulnerable than others. When you see any infected growth, cut it off and throw it away or burn it. Don’t put anything in the compost pile.
- The use of Typhlodromus Amblyseius Potentillae can be very effective in controlling gall mites. Chemical insecticides are ineffective against this kind of pest.
- Cutting hanging Fuchsias back to bare branches eliminates the straggly appearance while causing no harm to the plant. To grow new plants, place some of the cuttings in a potting mix.
- They require well-drained soil. In warmer areas, they prefer shade with filtered sun, while they prefer full sun in cool climates.
- Move your potted ones to a shed or garage for protection when the weather gets too chilly in the winter, and add mulch to the soil for healthy growth.
The most common Fuchsia varieties in the UK
A hardy variety with red sepals and semi-double purple flowers which bloom from June to September. It grows well in a mixed herbaceous border as well as in containers. It is around50 cm x 50 cm in height and spread.
A tough, climbing type with aubergine and carmine-pink bicoloured blooms. In 1939, it was produced from a Brazilian species and named after the British Fuchsia Society’s founder. Grow it up a trellis, arch, or fence or in the back of a herbaceous border. Height and spread: 3 m x 90 cm.
A hardy fuchsia with bronze-tinged foliage and semi-double pink sepals and white-pink petals. Plant it in a part-shaded mixed herbaceous border or in a pot on a sheltered, part-shaded patio. Height and spread: 60 cm x 60 cm.
Ideal for pots, and window boxes, these trailing Fuchsias have a lovely red and white colour combination and are half-hardy. Height and spread: 30 cm x 30 cm.
This hardy plant blooms and looks great in a border or pot from June to November. It produces dark, purple double flowers with vivid pink sepals. Height and spread: 45 cm x 45 cm.
It is developed specifically for use in pots and window boxes. The blooms and sepals are pink from June through September. It is a half-hardy type. Height and spread: 40 cm x 45 cm.
With masses of slender, lipstick pink blossoms, this type of Fuchsia is a show-stopper. This delicate cultivar is ideal for hanging baskets and pots. Height and spread: 45 cm x 45 cm.
There you have it! Always remember that the golden rule with pruning is to cut after flowering so that you can avoid mistakenly removing any new flowers. This guide has all the information that you’re going to need! Happy pruning!