Growing Fuchsia as Houseplants

The exotic bell-shaped flower of the fuchsia makes it one of the best flowering houseplants. Photo © Gerard Stolk/flickr

Fuchsia are immensely popular outdoor plants throughout the English-speaking world. They were first imported from subtropical regions in South American and New Zealand into the United Kingdom in the late 18th century, and have subsequently been the focus of extensive hybridizing. Today, there are fuchsia available in a wide range of colors, with the bell-like flowers blooming in white, pink, red, purple or various combinations.

They've also been bred as single, double, or semi-double flowers. And finally, they can be used in any number of situations, as trained standards, trailing baskets, or pots of colorful blooms. Long thought of as outdoor plants, indoor fuchsia are often thrown away after their bloom is finished. In reality, they can be overwintered, and a new set of leaves and blooms will emerge next spring for another display.

Growing Conditions

  • Light: Fuchsia appreciate bright light, but should not be subjected to full sun unless you can keep the roots adequately moist and cool. Many people use fuchsia as shade plants, which is fine, but as long as they get enough water, they can handle more light than many people assume.
  • Water: During the growing season, keep the soil continuously moist. Fuchsia dislike hot, dry roots—this will kill them. So make sure the roots are cool and moist at all times. After the bloom is done, cut watering back in preparation for overwintering the plant.
  • Temperature: Fuchsia thrive at around 70˚F and dislike being hot for too long. During the overwintering period, reduce temperature to 50˚F or 60˚F.
  • Soil: A rich, fast-draining mix is ideal.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize abundantly during the growing season. Fuchsia are heavy feeders, and many container growers feed their plants with a weak liquid fertilizer at every watering (weekly) during the growing season. Controlled-release pellets are also an excellent option.

    Propagation

    Fuchsia will propagate readily from leaf-tip cuttings. For best results, use a rooting hormone. After taking cuttings, leave the plants in a bright place with high humidity and keep the soil continuously moist, but not soaked. New growth should emerge within a few weeks. Do not repot cuttings until they are established.

    Repotting

    Repot your fuchsia in the spring annually. These plants require a rich supply of organic material to flower and perform their best, so even if you're not stepping the plant up to a larger pot, you should repot it into a fresh pot with new soil. Add some controlled-release fertilizer pellets at repotting time to increase vigor.

    Varieties

    The most common fuchsia is a "hoop-skirted" hybrid, available in many forms (single, semi-double, double, and clustered). In addition to the flower structure, there are any number of colors available and literally hundreds of named varieties. In general, buy fuchsia for its flower type. All fuchsia hybrids require the same general cultural requirements. If you want a trailing fuchsia, look for the Marinka (single flower) and Pink Galore (double flower) hybrids—although there are dozens more. For bushier fuchsia, pinch off new growth on young plants.

    Grower's Tips

    Fuchsia make excellent houseplants, in part because they are well adapted to growing in shadier conditions. In general, the more heat and light a fuchsia is subjected to, the more careful you'll have to be about watering. In some cases, you might be watering every day. To prevent fungal problems and pests, be careful not to let your fuchsia leaves touch the dirt. Even then, whiteflies can be a problem for fuchsia and should be treated at the first sign of an infestation (look for white webs on the undersides of leaves). When treating for whitefly, make sure to spray the undersides of leaves thoroughly to disrupt their life cycle. To overwinter your fuchsia, let the leaves drop off in spring, reduce watering, and move it to a cool and dark room. New growth should appear in the spring.