The Fuschia genus contains more than 100 woody shrubs and trees, but the familiar garden fuschias widely available in garden centers are mostly hybrids chosen because they are ideal for hanging baskets and other containers. While these plants can be perennial garden plants in warm climates, fuschias are usually grown as outdoor container plants, either planted as annuals and discarded as the weather turns cold, or brought indoors and nursed in bright light and controlled conditions over the winter.
From spring to fall, fuschias produce dozens of brightly colored teardrop-shaped flowers from trailing stems, and they do so in the kind of shady conditions where most plants struggle. Fuchsias are a fabulous staple for hanging baskets with their elegant, drooping flowers hanging down like so many crystals on a fancy chandelier. But they can look fantastic in almost any container garden. Fuchsias look lovely in a pot on their own but also pair well with complementary or contrasting colors. Display them with oxalis, angel wing begonias, lobelia, or coleus. These plants also a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.
If you do live in a warm climate zone, you can also consider one of the shrub-like cultivars that may even achieve small tree stature when planted in the garden.
Whether planting a fuschia in outdoor containers or in the garden, wait until the weather is consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit all night before planting—these plants are very sensitive to cold.
|Botanical Name||Fuschia (Group)|
|Common Names||Fuschia, lady's eardrops|
|Plant Type||Evergreen shrub, usually grown as a trailing container plant|
|Mature Size||Usually 1 to 2 feet tall, similar spread|
|Sun Exposure||Part shade to full shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, moisture-retentive garden soil or peat-based potting mix|
|Soil pH||6.0 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Bloom Time||Repeat seasonal bloomer|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, white, violet, purple, and bicolors|
|Hardiness Zones||10 to 11 (often grown as an annual container plant)|
|Native Area||Caribbean, northern South America|
How to Grow Fuschia Plants
Though slightly fussy about moisture and temperature, fuchsias are still considered an easy plant to grow in container gardens. Most will thrive in part shade to full shade. They don't like to be too hot, and they especially hate dry heat. With the right watering regimen and humidity levels, these plants become fairly care-free.
For peak bloom production, pick off any spent blossoms. Flowers appear only on new growth.
In colder climates, fuschia plants can be brought indoors to continue growing in the winter, or they can be cut back to store indoors in a semi-dormant state in a dark, dry location until the following spring. Growing fuschias indoors has a mixed success rate, so don't be surprised if you must resign yourself to growing these beauties as annuals.
These plants thrive in part shade to deep shade conditions. When growing them indoors, they enjoy a bit more light—bright indirect light rather than direct sunlight.
Fushia plants prefer consistently moist (but not soggy) soil with a good ratio of organic matter. At the same time, the soil should be well-draining. For in-ground plants, amending with peat moss or compost before planting is a good idea. Container plants do fine in an ordinary peat-based potting mix, provided the pot has good drainage.
Fuchsias like to be moist but not soggy. They thrive in humidity, so if you live somewhere dry, they are a little more challenging to grow and keep hydrated.
Temperature and Humidity
Fuchsias are happiest with temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, though there are some heat-tolerant cultivars that will keep their blooms up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also a few shrub-like varieties that are hardy in freezing temperatures.
Fuchsias thrive in humidity, so if you live in a dry climate, you may have to mist your plants to keep them sufficiently moist. Keeping them happy indoors through the dry months of winter can be challenging. You will have the best success over the winter if you can grow them in a space where you can run a humidifier when conditions are dry.
During the blooming season, fuchsias have a huge appetite, so you have to feed them regularly with diluted liquid fertilizer. Many are available, and a combination of fish emulsion and seaweed can work well.
Growing in Containers
Choose a 12- to-16-inch pot, depending on the size of the plant. You want a container one size larger than what it resided in at the nursery. Or, if you're combining smaller plants into one container, two or three specimen plants from 4-inch pots can live comfortably in a 10- or 12-inch pot.
Susceptible to root rot, fuchsias require a fast-draining potting soil and very good drainage, so don't plant one in a pot without holes. To avoid losing dirt through large holes when you water, place some plastic screening or coffee filters over the holes before putting in the soil. Also, allow space between the top of the container and the soil line. Don't fill the pot to the rim with soil.
Many gardeners discard their potted fushia plants as winter approaches. Some gardeners try to keep potted plants growing indoors over the winter, but it requires a humid environment to do this successfully. Another strategy is simply to cut them back to a few inches and place them in a dark, dry corner for the winter. Water only enough to keep the soil from becoming bone dry. In the spring, bring them back outdoors, where they usually recover.
Propagating Fuschia Plants
Fushia plants are easiest to propagate through stem cuttings taken in spring. Cut off a 2- to 4-inch segment of stem tip, making the cut just above the third pair of leaves. Remove the bottom leaves and dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
Plant the cutting into a tray or pot filled with a seed-starter mix or a blend of sand, perlite, and peat moss. Cover the pot with a loose clear plastic cover and place it in a warm location. Roots should develop in three to four weeks, and at this time you can remove the cover. When new leaf growth is obvious on the cutting, you can repot the fuschia in a larger container and move it outdoors.
Common Pests/ Diseases
Fuschia plants are susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. These can be especially troublesome when you bring plants indoors for the winter. Insecticidal soaps are the best option for controlling these insects, although chemical pesticides can also be used.
Varieties of Fuschias
The fuschia cultivars most often used for garden containers are divided into those that have upright growth habits, which are best for standing pots and large containers; and those with trailing habits, which are best for hanging baskets. There are many dozens of different cultivars, and your choice depends on what you prefer for flower color and growth habit. Consider these good choices:
- 'Swingtime' is a trailing variety with ruffled white inner petals surrounded by bright red outer sepals.
- 'Army Nurse' is a shrubby, upright variety with purple flower petals surrounded by red sepals. It works well in large pots or as a garden plant in appropriate hardiness zones.
- 'Rapunzel' is a trailing variety with purple and pinkish-white flowers. Its stems can trail as much as 2 feet.
- 'Phyllis' is another upright variety, with deep red petals surrounded by lighter rose-red sepals.