Nearly everyone loves fuchsias and they are also 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 bear the name of someone special?
Pam and I buy them for wall baskets and in particular we 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.
Here at Waterlooville they were wonderful until about a week ago when the wind ruined them. Do you suffer from the wind?
I have spent some time taking the fuchsias out of the baskets and containers and have decided to keep those we love best.
As you might recall from previous articles, we have two greenhouses.
One is left empty until January at which point Pam starts to sow her begonias in her heated frame.
The other is for a collection of plants such as cyclamen and pots of daffodils and narcissus.
The fuchsia plants will be overwintered in this greenhouse but what we don’t want is this greenhouse looking like it has a load of leaf-falling plants and fluffy grey-covered leaves! Not a good look.
What I’m about to suggest might seem a bit drastic but if it fails I will give you your money back...
So, fork out the fuchsias and shake off all the old compost.
Take your secateurs and cut the stems back hard. You will now see the thick stem with lots of side shoots.
Cut off every side shoot leaving only about an inch making sure you cut them back to just above a node (leaf joint). Every leaf has to be removed.
Now 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 think ahead, you won’t have to spend the winter picking up leaves.
Each plant is now potted into a small pot using your favourite potting compost.
If the root system is huge and the roots won’t fit into your 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 BUT there will be no dead leaves all over the greenhouse benches.
During the winter try to keep the fuchsias free from frost.
This is easy to do if you divide the greenhouse with horticultural fleece suspended from the greenhouse roofing bars so that a smaller area can be kept frost-free with a little heater (hint, this would make a lovely Christmas present!).
During the winter the compost in the pots must be kept on the dry side to prevent the plants from dehydrating.
At the end of February a little more water is applied and suddenly new shoots appear and you will be delighted.
THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP
Take a walk around the garden and see how many plants are still in flower. Make a note of them even if there’s only one flower. Flowers keep winter at bay.