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The Genus

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The genus Fuchsia belongs to the family Onagraceae.

There are approximately a 100 species in cultivation. Amazingly 95 per cent originate from America - only a few come from New Zealand, Tahiti and the West Indies.

Species can be purchased from specialist nurseries varieties such as F. denticulata, F. loxensis, F. fulgens, F. procumbens, Encliandra and F.magellanica. What we see in Garden Centres and Nurseries and grown generally are strictly speaking cultivars not varieties. Cultivars are hybrids of species, which over the years have been improved and developed to produce new colours and growth habits.

Fuchsias come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Growth habits are essentially upright and trailing, each to a greater or lesser degree.

All cultivars are further sub divided into hardy and half hardy. Half hardy will not tolerate frost and any half hardy plant will die if subjected to it. Plants classed as hardy will tolerate varying degrees of frost, but only if the roots are protected.

Plants grown outside as hardy should be planted quite deep in the garden to prevent frost penetrating the root. Hardy plants in pots should be treated as half hardy, as if left out, frost can penetrate all angles of the pot and kill the plant.

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Fuchsias in all shapes and sizes

The fuchsia flower consists of sepals, petals (corolla), tube, pedicel, ovary, anther, stamen, stigma, style. Flowers are also classified as single, 4 petals, semi-double 5-7 petals, and double 8 or more petals. Triphyllas usually have long tubes, short sepals and a small single corolla.
Watering

When you buy a Fuchsia from the garden centre the label very often says 'keep moist' or 'prefers moist soil'. The emphasis here is on Moist not wet, soaking or saturated, Fuchsias do not like wet soil. They need their roots to have plenty of oxygen and whilst they do need water only water if the plant looks dry, the golden rule is if in doubt don't water. I've lost more plants to drowning than anything else.

Feeding

Much has been written about this and it's even suggested you can't overfeed Fuchsias, but it's not so much the plant that suffers from overfeeding as the compost, too much feed can turn the compost very acidic, which in turn the plant does not like. A reasonable guide to feeding is to feed a balanced liquid feed at quarter strength with every watering.

Pinching Out

To encourage growth from lower down on your plants in the early stages, it is a good idea to remove the growing tip of each branch at two or three leaf nodes as the plant develops. This will not only produce a bushier plant, but will increase the amount of blooms when it comes into flower. The downside is every stop delays the flowering by 8-12 weeks, therefore for plants to flower in July, don't pinch out past the end of April.

Tip for Rust

Fuchsia Rust can ruin the fruits of our labour once it establishes itself on plants. As always, prevention is better than cure and it is recommended to use fungicides containing Myclobutanil or Macozeb for control, which can be expensive. A cheaper alternative is, believe it or not, ordinary Listerene Mouthwash, diluted by one part Listerene to ten parts water and spayed on your plants, it seems to work. This tip I think originated in Ireland and was passed to us by a member of the Ayrshire Fuchsia Society. It has been used by some of our members with positive feedback, only negative feedback was the Greenhouse smells like a dental surgery afterwards. Not sure that it could be classed as organic, but hey it has to be safer than other chemicals as well as cheaper.