Fuchsia Baskets


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How to grow them

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Growing fuchsias in a basket is a great way to display these lovely flowers and also provides some height to the garden. Fuchsias displayed at eye level, or above, really does add an other angle to your plants.

Fuchsias can of course be planted in a basket with other trailing plants or a number of different fuchsias in a basket. In my experience it is best to plant up one basket with a number of fuchsias only of one variety, and the following will concentrate on this method. The reason for choosing one variety is that growth and colouring will be consistent all round the basket. Choosing different varieties may mean some grow faster, higher or lower than others upsetting the overall effect.

There are a number of sizes of hanging basket on the market, from 8" to more than 16", open and closed, plastic and wire, the choice is yours. As an example I'd use a 12" wire basket, the liner doesn't really matter too much as the hope is that the plants will grow over and hide this, a piece of black or green polythene with holes punched in it will do. Fill your basket with your preferred compost, there are hanging basket composts available, but what you use for your pot plants is good enough. Adding some water retaining gel to the compost is optional, I prefer a handful of vermiculite. Baskets do dry out very quickly in the summer not only in hot sun, but any wind has a drying effect too and whilst they should have good drainage, they do need some water retention qualities so as not to dry out too quick.
There is no limit to the number of cuttings you can place in a basket, but do bear in mind they need some 'personal' space to develop, not only above the soil but below also. I would use five cuttings in a 12" basket four round the edge and one in the centre. It does look pretty bare in a new basket, but by mid summer it will be full.

Choose your cuttings for the basket, which should be nice and healthy, but it's a good idea to grow a couple of spares on in pots just in case you have any losses in the basket. Naturally trailing cultivars are probably the best, but maybe not too lax as it's good to have some spread as well, and there's nothing wrong with choosing an upright, it just won't flow over the basket the same.

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A Full Basket

An excellent choice for growing a basket for the first time is 'Swingtime'. You can usually buy this in your local Garden Centre as it's so popular. Classed as a trailer it has a semi upright growth that often bends down with the weight of the large red and white blooms, which are almost continuous throughout summer.

Once your basket is planted up 'pinch out' the growing tips to encourage branching, but not after mid May if you want flowers in July. It should be possible to get the basket outside by mid May, but be wary of frosts. Once outside check regularly for water, particularly in mid summer, and be on the lookout for the usual pests and diseases.

OVERWINTERING A BASKET

Baskets irrespective of the cultivars you've chosen for the content should be treated as half hardy.
Due to the nature of a basket it is easy for the frost to completely penetrate all of the root ball.

Before the first frosts prepare your basket for the winter. I'd remove all the leaves from all the branches and prune the top growth to a shape which reflects the shape of the basket. What you should then have is something resembling a sphere.

As with other half hardies, basket fuchsias can be over-wintered in a frost free environment: a garage, shed, cool loft or greenhouse. Ideally a minimum temperature of 5°C is necessary. Keep the soil on the dry side, just moist not wet.

In the spring a plant would require repotting, but with a basket having a number of plants, the root systems will be entwined. The way in which I do this may seem severe but it works. Remove the complete root ball from the basket and with a large knife cut away at least two thirds of the old compost and roots, which should leave a mat of a couple of inches of old compost and root. Reline the basket and fill with fresh compost to the required level leaving just enough room to accommodate the mat which is placed on top and lightly water.

Once new growth begins it needs as much light as possible, yet kept frost free until the threat of frost is past. Ideally in a frost free greenhouse or conservatory, but if you don't have this then putting the plant out on milder days and bringing inside in the evenings will be successful. Sitting the basket on top of a bucket is an easy way of doing this.

When you see evidence of new growth, increase watering and spray with tepid water to encourage new growth, and grow on as you would a normal bush