Garden, Gardens

Growing Fuchsias

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We chatted to Chloe Warild-Warren, head gardener at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa in the Natal Midlands about how to grow fuchsias in your garden.

When is the best time to plant fuchsias, and why? It is best to plant bedding fuchsias in May or early June to allow the plant to settle in before winter hits. The fuchsia’s roots must be protected from frost using mulch or bark at base of the plant. Young plants should be covered during winter with a frost cloth, which is available at most nurseries in frosty areas. Fuchsias for containers and baskets are best planted early spring before the summer heat kicks in.

As there are many different variants of the fuchsia, which are the best to grow in South Africa? All fuchsias need special care in hot dry climates as well as in frosty areas. South Africa as a whole has such diverse climates, so it always best to visit the nursery closest to your area because these plants would have acclimatised. There are thousands of varieties and new ones come out every year. A few commonly known ones are Voodoo, Annabel, Party Frock, Cotton Candy, Reg Gubler, Pink Jade, Mrs Popple and Shy Lady (all of which are upright) and Pink Marshmallow, Red Shadow, Sophisticated Lady, Super Sport and Charlie Girl (all of which are trailing).

How often should fuchsias be propagated? Propagation can be done once a year. Hard-wood cuttings can be done in June if you are lucky enough to own a green house. I prefer spring (September/October), as I find that this is when soft tip cuttings grow best.

What are the benefits of a propagation course? Nurseries stock a limited amount of plants and certain varieties of plants you know grow well in your garden may not be available. By learning to propagate you can save money and maintain the plants that do well in your garden.

What are your three top tips in maintaining fuchsias?

1. Tip trim your fuchsia to encourage the plant to bush out, otherwise it can get long and woody.

2. It is important to remember that fuchsias hate hot or dry roots just as much as they dislike sitting in wet soil. They prefer semi-shaded areas where it is cool and the soil must have good drainage. Hanging baskets must be watered twice daily.

3. Container fuchsias should be fed or fertilised every second week and checked for rust or red spider mites, which are common problems for fuchsias.