BASICS OF FUCHSIA CULTURE
Fuchsias grow naturally in the warmth, humidity and dappled sunlight on the higher altitudes of tropical and sub-tropical jungles. They are happi est in home gardens where those conditions are approximated.
Protect fuchsias from direct sun and dry wind in summer and frost in winter. They like MORNING SUN/AFTERNOON SHADE or FILTERED SUN. They do not like deep shade.
Fuchsias love the 14° to 25° Celsius range but will tolerate higher temperatures if humidity is maintained. They will survive winter lows of -7°C but some of the softer wood types need protection from frost.
Fuchsias like to be DAMP but NOT SOGGY. In summer, they like early morning watering and mid-afternoon or evening misting. Avoid exposing wet leaves to direct sun. In winter, only water when required. It is wise to feel the soil before watering. If it is damp but the plant is limp, just mist.
Fuchsias are heavy feeders. They prefer a LIGHT feeding OFTEN. A half-strength solution of a complete balanced fertilizer applied for weekly works well, but discontinue late Autumn until plants start growing again in Spring.
Fuchsia soil should be LOOSE so roots can penetrate and spread. It also should be SPONGY so it will retain moisture but drain freely.
Fuchsias prefer a soil that is loose and well drained. This allows air into the soil and retains moisture and nutrients. There is a wide range of commercial potting mixes that are suitable. In general, these mixtures will contain organic matter (humus) and bulky material such as sand or coarse grit. The bulky material serves to keep the soil loose and open. The organic matter retains the moisture and nutrients.
A good general home made potting mix can be used – this could consist of
- 2 x 10 litre buckets of garden compost 2 x 10 litre buckets of moist peat
- 1 x 10 litre bucket of coarse grit 125 grams of blood and bone
- 125 grams slow release fertilizer – 3/6 months
A container holds all the soil, nutrients and root system. A container must allow the soil to drain freely. A fine mesh screen covering the drain hole will prevent the soil from washing out and prevent slugs and worms from entering the container through the drain hole.
The basic types of containers are made from clay, wood, plastic, or wire frames lined with sphagnum moss or coconut fibre. Wire and clay containers dry quickly. A container does more than hold soil and plant. It should drain freely and also provide an aesthetic backdrop that enhances the beauty of the fuchsia plant in full bloom.
Fertilizers (plant food) are necessary for proper growth and flower pro duction. The primary food elements are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The relative amounts of each of these elements are indicated on the fertilizer container
Example: N – P – K : 30 -10 -10
- 30 Parts of nitrogen (N)
- 10 parts of phosphorus (P)
- 10 parts of potassium (K)
- 50 parts of inert material
- Equal : 100 parts total fertilizer container contents
The functions of these primary food elements are as follows:
NITROGEN promotes soft green growth.
PHOSPHORUS promotes flower and seed production. It also matures a plant, hardens the stems and develops stronger root growth.
POTASSIUM regulates the amount of green growth versus flower and seed production. It also increases a plant’s resistance to disease and promotes general vigour.
Secondary food elements also are necessary for a plant’s proper growth.
These secondary food elements sometimes are called trace elements or micro-nutrients. Examples of some secondary food elements are as follows:
Iron Copper Sulphur Zinc Calcium Boron
Molybdenum Magnesium Manganese
Excesses of these elements are as damaging as too little. Most fertiliz ers contain the proper amounts of these secondary food elements.
Unless a plant shows obvious signs of poor health, such as yellow leaves on a plant whose normal leaf colour is dark green, one need not be too concerned about supplying these elements. In the case of a plant’s leaves turning yellow, a lack of iron could be the problem. For optimum growth and flower production, fertilizers’ relative concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K) should be varied relative to the season as follows:
SPRING – After the first green growth appears, feed with a “high nitrogen” fertilizer to promote rapid growth. Fertilize once a month.
SUMMER – After pinching is complete, switch to a balanced fertilizer to promote blooming. Feed weekly.
AUTUMN – Use a “high phosphorus and potassium” fertilizer to harden the plant for the winter. Feed weekly.
WINTER – Don’t fertilize at all.
If the above sounds too complicated, use a balanced fertilizer for Spring, Summer and Autumn. Two months before the hard frost date, stop feeding entirely.
A fertilizer is considered high nitrogen if the ratio of nitrogen is greater than phosphorus and potassium by a factor of two (2-1-1). The following formulas all are considered high nitrogen:
A balanced fertilizer is one that contains nearly equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Examples of balanced fertilizers are as follows:
A low nitrogen fertilizer usually is denoted as “Hi-Bloom”. Examples of low nitrogen fertilizers are as follows:
In all cases, follow the manufacturer’s directions for best results.
ALWAYS WATER PLANTS THOROUGHLY THE DAY BEFORE FERTILIZING!