Fuchsias produce really fascinating-looking blooms in various colors, with frilled or flouncy petals, some of which look as though they may take flight, and a spray of stamens bursting from the center. I think the trailing types are best displayed in hanging baskets so they can cascade over the edges, allowing you to look up and really admire the full flower. From a viewing perspective, they often point downwards. Luckily this isn’t a problem for bees and hummingbirds! Fuchsias also work well in pots and window boxes. In this article, I’m going to share some tips on caring for a fuchsia hanging basket throughout the summer months, so you can enjoy those otherworldly blooms right through until the first frost of autumn.
Fuchsias are native to Central and South America, with a staggering of types in Mexico, New Zealand, and Tahiti. In North America, they are considered to be tender perennials as they won’t survive below 40°F (4°C). However, they’re mostly grown as annuals in Canada and many parts of the United States.
Find the perfect spot for your fuchsia hanging basket
There are over a hundred species and dozens of different fuchsia varieties to choose from. Read your plant tag carefully to determine the best areas of the garden for your fuchsia hanging basket. Generally, fuchsias don’t mind full sun (or bright, indirect light) with a bit of part shade, but there are some varieties that are more heat tolerant. Full shade may impact flower growth. And in especially hot regions, make sure they have a shaded area where they can thrive during the heat of the day.
If you’ve hung the plant in the spring and there is frost in the forecast, bring the plant into an unheated garage or shed to give it some protection from the elements.
For soil, if you purchase a hanging basket, the growing medium will already be tailored to your plant. If you are planting fuchsias yourself, look for a well-draining potting mix. And make sure your container has lots of drainage holes, too.
Caring for a fuchsia hanging basket over the summer
Fuchsias aren’t super fussy plants, but they do have a few care requirements. Water fuchsias first thing in the morning. An indoor watering can with a long, narrow spout works best so that you can aim the spout between the stems and leaves right at the soil. Overhead sprinkling simply wets the flowers and leaves, and can encourage disease.
Fuchsias don’t mind moist soils, but make sure the soil drains well and the roots are not sitting in waterlogged soil. You also want to make sure the container doesn’t dry out completely. During the hot summer months you may need to water daily. Feel the soil between watering… if the top layer feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water.
Hot summer days can slow the growth of the plant. Fuchsias prefer mild days and cool nights. And they like humidity over dry conditions. You may find that flowers are stunted once temperatures reach 80°F (27°C). Some growers do offer heat-tolerant varieties.
In the heat of the summer, you may need to move your plant so it gets more shade. Avoid the extreme sun exposure from a south-facing part of the garden. Furthermore, too much wind can make short work of those elaborate flowers, so a more sheltered spot is ideal.
If you want to optimize blooms, use an organic, water soluble fertilizer, paying close attention to package directions for amount and frequency.
Deadheading fuchsia plants
Deadheading your fuchsia plant will encourage more blooms. I use herb scissors for these types of tasks since pruning shears may be too big to cut small stems. Sometimes they just squish them instead of snipping. You could also just use your fingernails. Take your scissors and snip the stem about a quarter of an inch (6 cm) from the base of the flower. Be sure to remove the entire spent flower and the berry left behind. If spent blooms are lingering in the pot, remove those, as well.
If you find the plant becoming especially leggy, you can prune it back using small hand pruners or herb scissors.
Keeping a fuchsia alive over the winter
If you want to keep a hanging basket alive over the winter, you can bring it indoors into an unheated garage or shed and allow it to go dormant. Cut it back by about half, also removing any dead stems, leaves, and blooms. Try to remember to water it occasionally throughout the winter, but don’t worry about watering it daily as you would in the summer. When mid-to-late spring arrives, add a bit of fresh compost or potting soil to the pot and harden it off gradually before leaving it out for the season.
Potential fuchsia pests and diseases
Fuchsias can be affected by a few fungal diseases. Root rot can occur if the plants are left standing in soil that is too oversoaked. Fuchsia rust is caused by a fungus found in the US called Pucciniastrum epilobii. It’s more an affliction that happens during propagation, but pay close attention to the leaves of a fuchsia when purchasing a plant. Look for chlorotic spots on the leaves. The undersides may have orange pustules.
Another fungal disease is gray mold or botrytis blight. This appears as translucent spots on the leaves that turn brown—almost as though watering has affected them.
Fuchsia gall mites, which afflict young leaves and flower buds are found more in cool coastal areas. The result is twisted, distorted leaves. If you’re concerned about any sort of pest affliction, connect with a local fuchsia society or your local extension to find advice on dealing with the issue.
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