For many, the only experience with the fuschia plant is having one or more in a hanging basket, which will be discarded at the end of summer. The fuschia plant is often considered to be too fussy or demanding to be placed in a summer flower garden. There is some basis to this. A fuschia plant can be demanding. In fact, there are only a few rather narrow zones in the country where it will grow without needing some special attention.
Cool Summers Are Best
The fuschia is usually considered to be a tropical plant. It will do well in sub-tropical and moderate climates and can grow in the summertime in other climate if it is taken inside once the temperature approaches the freezing point.
In warm climates, many fuschia varieties are evergreen. In slightly cooler zones, the plant is deciduous. It will lose its leaves, but take off again the following spring. Ironically, for a supposedly tropical plant, the fuschia plant does not appreciate really hot weather, especially hot, dry weather. It does best where summers tend to be rather cool, and better even if there is some moisture in the air.
Locations like Seattle and San Francisco are ideal places for growing fuschias in the garden. All that is needed is to place the plants where they will be somewhat sheltered from the wind and from the hot afternoon sun. Fuschias will, therefore, grow best on the north or east side of the house, where they may get some morning sun, but are shaded from the hot late afternoon sun.
Another good place for a fuschia plant in a pot or container is near a window where the plant can get plenty of light throughout the day.
The Hybrid Fuschia Is The Most Common
There are five major types of fuschia plants. The most common type is F. hybrida or the Hybrid Fuschia, which comes in hundreds of varieties. The vast majority of fuschia plants you will find in a nursery or plant farm are members of F. hybrida. As the number suggests, the combinations of bloom size, shape, and color seem to be practically endless.
The blooms do have a few things in common. On most varieties, the blooms droop from the stems. The sepals, the large top petals, are always either white, pink, or red. The inside of the bloom, called the corolla, can be almost any color, ranging in shades from white, to blue violet, to purple, pink, or orange.
You can pick the color combination you like, but a fuschia plant which has red sepals and a deep purple corolla is almost always stunning, whether the plant is a shrub or is in a hanging basket.
Some varieties of fuschias have very small blooms, about the size of the tip of your little finger. Some varieties can have blooms that are 3 or 4 inches across. On most varieties, the size of the leaves corresponds to the size of the blooms. It would take some work to find a fuschia plant that had large blooms and tiny leaves.
Some fuschias are single and some are double; single and double referring to characteristics of the corolla.
Love Hummingbirds? Buy A Fuschia Plant
If you have fuschias in your yard in hanging baskets or as shrubs, be prepared to be visited by hummingbirds. Hummingbirds simply love fuschias. It is almost as if the plant was designed with the little birds in mind. It is the fuschia’s color that attracts the hummingbirds since fuschias are not noted for their fragrance. For all practical purposes, a fuschia plant has no fragrance.
Caring For Your Fuschia Plant
The fuschia must be tended to almost on a daily basis, as the soil needs to be kept moist, though not allowed to become soggy. Fuschias do not like wet feet any more than most other plants do. The fuschia is also a heavy feeder, and it will do best if given a little plant food every other week or so. A fuschia in a hanging basket needs to be watered almost daily.
Fuschias tend to be a bit leggy at times. This is seldom a problem with the hanging varieties, but pinching the spent buds or simply pinching back the stem is still a good idea. Pinching will give shrubs a fuller, more compact look, and can keep a hanging basket fuschia from running amok.
As far as diseases and pests are concerned, aphids and spider mites are the fuschia’s worst enemy. Spraying with plain or sudsy water will help keep the plant aphid free, while a commercial insecticide spray may be needed to control mites. A presence of either pest is usually indicated by yellowing or distorted leaves.
Pruning Your Fuschia Plant
Fuschias are generally pruned in the spring where nearly all of last year’s growth is removed. Leave one pair of buds on each stem where possible and prune away all dead stems. In colder climates, the fuschia should be pruned lightly before taking the plant inside and then pruned back to the live wood in the spring.
When all is said and done, the fuschia may take a little extra care, but it is not a difficult plant to grow, and is a nice plant for the house or garden.