Fuchsia - Lady's Eardrops
DESCRIPTION: These tender shrubs are mainly natives of Central and South America and New Zealand. They are great plants for greenhouses, window boxes, baskets, homes, and flower beds. In areas where Fuchsias are hardy enough to live outdoors they can grow into beautiful, tall shrubs and may be planted to form hedges. In less mild areas of North America, Fuchsias may be killed down in the winter, but in the spring, new shoots will push up from the base of the shrubs. In these places, Fuchsias should be planted in warm, sheltered spots in well-drained soil. The bases of the plants should be protected before cold weather sets in. These plants have dark green leaves often with red stems. The flowers, which are produced during the summer and early fall, are droopy and come in many colors such as red, white, pink, and purple. Some kinds of these plants grow up and some have weak stems so they are good in hanging baskets.
POTTING: Fuchsias grown outdoors can survive in ordinary garden soil that has adequate drainage. Before planting, decayed manure or compost should be mixed into the soil. They can be planted in late May or early June. Fuchsias are great for planting in hanging baskets. Two or three plants should be set near the edge of a basket (that's been lined with moss) and one in the center. If these plants are grown in a greenhouse during the summer, they must have a cool, well-ventilated atmosphere. They will not thrive in hot, humid conditions. The soil should consist of five parts fibrous loam and one part each of leaf mold and sand, with a bit of wood ash added. Water must gradually be discontinued as the leaves fall in autumn. When they are all off, the soil should be kept dry except for an occasional moistening to keep it from becoming dust-dry. In February, the branches should be pruned back by about half and they should be repotted. If kept in a closed and moist atmosphere, in a temperature of 50-55 degrees, they will soon start to sprout again. The shoots should be pinched several times to encourage bushier growth. If grown against a wall, Fuchsias can be pruned in late winter or early spring. Long, thin branches should be shortened and cut out. Long side shoots on the main branches need to be shortened to within a few buds of the base of the past summer's growth. Fuchsias growing in the open garden are pruned at the same time. If the old branches have been killed by frost they must be cut back to the ground; if only parts of the branches have been killed, then cut back just to the undamaged section. If large Fuchsias are desired and the climate is mild enough to keep them safely through the winter, little pruning, besides thinning out crowding branches and cutting off thin ends of long branches, is necessary. Standard (tree-form) or pyramid Fuchsias can be grown in large pots or tubs outside in the summer and inside in the winter. The best time to start is by taking cuttings in August, in the way explained below in propagation. In the spring and early summer, the plants must be repotted as becomes necessary to prevent their growth from being stunted. The standard plant is allowed to grow unhindered until the desired height has been reached. The top is then cut off and side shoots will grow to form the head of branches.
PROPAGATION: The shoots can be taken off when they are 3 inches long and used as cuttings. The lowest leaves should be removed and the base of the shoot is cut just beneath a joint. They are then inserted in a propagating frame in the greenhouse until they form roots. In March or early April, the rooted cuttings must be potted in 3-inch flowerpots using the compost described in the potting section. The soil should be packed moderately firm around the roots.
F. magellanica (macrosemma) (in mild climates, it forms a 6- to 10-ft. bush, sm. flowers have red calyx & purple corolla);
F. conica (3-6 ft.); F. discolor (dwarf & compact);
F. globosa; F. gracilis (sm. leaves); F. pumila (dwarf);
F. Riccartonii (crimson & purple flowrs);
F. procumbens (trailing plant w/ sm. yellow, violet & green flowers followed by lg. plum-red fruits, great for growing in pots & hanging baskets in a cool greenhouse or sunroom).
F. fulgens (orange-red);
F. splendens (scarlet flowers tipped w/ green);
F. simplicicaulis (tall shrub w/ long, thin shoots & rose-scarlet flowers);
F. corymbiflora (clusters of scarlet flowers);
F. triphylla (reddish flowers). These are grown outdoors in mild climates or in cool greenhouses.
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