My foray into growing the fuchsia plant, commonly misspelled fuschia, wasn’t as successful as I had initially hoped. Sure, the plant grew okay and produced a few spectacular flowers but from then onwards it suffered at the peril of my non-fuchsia-gardening-hands.
I had bought it at a local market overflowing with blooms and brimming with optimism. The seller gave me a few tips to care for it but in the hectic marketplace missed the most important element one needs when growing fuchsias. I thought the key was fertiliser and so I would dowse it in an organic liquid solution every 2 weeks while flowering only to find that this wasn’t helping. In fact, it was doing quite the opposite.
The flowers began to die or brown before they opened and the leaves were getting tinged with dead material highlighting a lack of something – but what? Maybe they needed repotting, I thought. So I exhumed them from their hanging basket, topped up the soil and carefully replanted them yet still found that this didn’t make huge inroads into their growing habit.
Even pulling out my own hair had seemingly no effect.
It wasn’t until I visited my sister, an avid fuchsia grower, that the reason became crystal clear. “You are watering them twice a day during these hot months, aren’t you?” she asked. Twice per day! I wasn’t sure I was watering them more than twice per week. How had I not noticed this?
The fuchsia plant is so delicate and obviously a heavy drinker – just take a look at the composition of the stems. They scream for water! Yet here I was barely keeping it alive by watering it occasionally rather than every day.
That story was many moons ago when I first ventured into gardening. Much has changed since and I’ve (successfully!) grown many fuchsias and even propagated a few. And my love for them has not changed – maybe deepened perhaps! And who couldn’t love these delicate blooms that hang like jewels on a necklace?
The problem with the watering was twofold. Firstly, I grew these in shallow pots or hanging baskets that dry out very quickly. And second, our climate produces very dry, hot summer days that aid in the evaporation of any moisture at all. I’ve since grown fuchsias in garden beds tucked away in shaded areas and have found that watering every 1-2 days is ample but in containers these plants need the moisture regularly – once in the morning and then a replenishing drink in the evening.
Some people who garden in cooler climes grow fuschia plants as annuals while here in Oz we’re able to grow them successfully as perennials. As perennials they require a little more maintenance mainly because they itch to become leggy.
I find that by pruning them in the dormant winter months – by at least a third – sets them up for a glorious spring. Then as the warmer months roll in, picking their growth down to the next set of paired leaves helps maintain the shrub’s bushiness.
A light feed or blood ‘n bone (bonemeal) and a liquid fertiliser at the start of spring will catapult them into spring flowering sensations but they don’t require much more than that.
Just give them enough water!
Photo source: foxypar4