How to give fuchsias a chance in the big chill

Fuchsia Cecile.
Fuchsia Cecile.
A withered poinsettia. This may not be your fault.

BRIAN KIDD: Killing worms and poorly poinsettias

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How should we over-winter fuchsias? This week I thought it would be a good idea to make this topic the main story because several readers have asked me about this.

Liz, who lives at Emsworth, tells me her wall baskets were the best ever as she chose trailing fuchsias. Every plant produced flowers from mid-June right up until the middle of October, and she would like to keep them in the greenhouse

successfully over winter.

Karen, who lives at Bedhampton, grew hers in huge pots and there were three different varieties but they were upright bushy ones.

All types of half-hardy fuchsias are treated in the same way. Dig them out with as much root as possible but shake off all the compost

It is essential to prune them hard and the best method is to look for the main stem at the bottom of the plant, then look for the branches which are growing from the main stem and, using sharp secateurs, cut off every side shoot to the first node (leaf joint).

This seems to be rather drastic as it means that 95 per cent of every branch will have been removed. There is a good reason for this; if leaves are left on the plants they will gradually become pale, then yellow and finally brown before dropping off.

The leaves fall on top of the compost and as they rot fungi arrive. This will devour the leaves and finally attack the stems. Another advantage is that the greenhouse bench won’t be covered with dead leaves. I think you will admit we don’t want a greenhouse spoiled with dead leaves.

Each plant needs to be labelled. If the name is not known, simply write the colour of the flower and add ‘bush’ or ‘trailer’ because next spring when they are being replanted, you won’t remember which is which!

Some fuchsia growers pack the plants into deep trays in Universal compost, but it’s a much better idea to plant every one into a suitable size pot in any well-drained compost.

The reason for this is that fungi may attack plants in trays and the fungus will spread through the roots in the compost. Once one plant has been destroyed, the fungus will attack the others.

During the winter the plants need to be kept in a light greenhouse , but it is really important to keep the compost on the dry side but never completely dry.

Hopefully your fuchsias will survive and because the pots are close together there will be space in your greenhouse to sow seeds of begonias next January. Time will fly by.