Brian Kidd says the fuchsia’s bright, but only if you take drastic action now

Fuchsias - a little TLC now will pay dividends throughout next summer
Fuchsias - a little TLC now will pay dividends throughout next summer

SOUTHSEA GREENHOUSE: Enjoying an early harvest

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Nearly everyone loves fuchsias and they are one of the best value-for-money summer flowering plants.

Do you look at the pictures of the flowers at garden centres and nurseries or do you buy them because they have the name of someone special?

Pam and I buy them for wall baskets and in particular choose varieties which will have cascades of blooms.

If the dead flowers are removed regularly they are magnificent and will bloom from the middle of July. Ours remained wonderful until a week ago when the wind ruined them. Do you suffer from the wind?

We have been taking them out of the baskets and containers and have decided to keep those we love best.

As you might recall, we have two greenhouses. One is left empty until January when Pam starts to sow begonias in her heated frame. The other is for a collection of plants such as cyclamen, pots of daffs and narcissus.

Fuchsias will be over-wintered in this greenhouse, but we don’t want the greenhouse looking grim with a load of leaf-falling plants and fluffy, grey-covered leaves!

What follows may seem a bit drastic, but if it fails I will give you your money back ...

Fork out the fuchsias and shake off all the old compost. Use secateurs and cut the stems back hard. You will see a thick stem with lots of side shoots.

Cut off every side shoot leaving only about an inch and cut them back to just above a node (leaf joint).

When every leaf has been removed cut the main stem right down to about four inches too.

I told you this would be drastic, but the leaves would have fallen off anyway and anyway, think ahead, you won’t have to spend the winter picking up leaves.

Each plant is now potted into a small pot containing your favourite potting compost.

If the root system is huge and the roots won’t fit into small pots, shake off all the compost and cut off all the thick roots. This will do no harm, it’s called down-potting.

If you follow this advice you will be able to put the small pots into seed trays which will save space and there will be no dead leaves all over the greenhouse benches.

During the winter try to keep the fuchsias frost free.

This is easy to do if you divide the greenhouse with horticultural fleece .

Suspend it from the greenhouse roofing bars so a smaller area can be kept frost free with a little heater (what a nice Christmas present – why not drop some hints).

During the winter the compost in the pots must be kept on the dry side to prevent the plants dehydrating.

At the end of February a little more water is applied and, as if by magic, new shoots will appear and you will be delighted.

TIP OF THE WEEK

If the borders look a bit dull, cut off some sprays of evergreen shrubs and poke them into the ground.
Believe it or not this ground cover will look good for several weeks.