From spring to fall, fuchsias 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.
Whether planting a fuchsia in outdoor containers or the garden, wait until the weather is consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit all night before planting—these plants are very sensitive to cold. They have an moderate growth rate of 1 to 2 feet in a year.
|Botanical Name||Fuchsia (Group)|
|Plant Type||Evergreen shrub, also grown as an annual trailing container plant|
|Mature Size||Usually 1 to 2 ft. tall, similar spread|
|Sun Exposure||Part shade to full shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, moisture-retentive garden soil or peat-based potting mix|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.0)|
|Bloom Time||Repeat seasonal bloomer|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, white, violet, purple, and bicolors|
|Hardiness Zones||10-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Caribbean, northern South America|
The Fuchsia genus contains more than 100 woody shrubs and trees, but the familiar garden fuchsia 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, fuchsias 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.
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 carefree.
For peak bloom production, pick off any spent blossoms. Flowers appear only on new growth. 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 be trained to achieve small tree stature when planted in the garden or pot.
In colder climates, fuchsia plants can be brought indoors to continue growing in the winter or put into a semi-dormant state in a dark, dry location until the following spring. Growing fuchsias 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.
Fuchsia 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 some heat-tolerant cultivars 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 these plants happy indoors through the dry months of winter can be challenging because you'll need to run a humidifier to keep the space from becoming overly 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.
The fuchsia 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 habits. 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.
Regular pruning can keep a fuchsia plant vibrant with blooms. It's also okay to prune back drastically. It will rebound nonetheless and be better for it. For trailing fuchsia, remove thin or brittle growth at any time. For bushy perennial fuchsia, would benefit from a light trim in the early fall and spring to clean up the dead portions.
Fuchsia plants are easiest to propagate through stem cuttings taken in the 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 fuchsia in a larger container and move it outdoors.
Potting and Repotting
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.
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. Here are tips on repotting fuchsia:
- 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 fuchsia 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.
Common Pests & Diseases
Fuchsia 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.
Lookabaugh, EC., Ivors, KL., Shew, BB. Mefonoxam Sensitivity, Aggressiveness, and Identification of Pythium Species Causing Root Rot on Floriculture Crops in North Carolina. Plant Disease, 99,11,1550-1558, 2015, doi:10.1094/PDIS-02-15-0232-RE
Fuchsia - Fuchsia spp. Family Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family). University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources.