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Fuchsia Care in Australia
from AUSTRALIA'S CAPITAL TERRITORY
FUCHSIA CARE FOR SPRING AND SUMMER
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Be sure NOT to prune until the danger of frosts are over and then commence this task just before the sap begins to rise. Remove all dead and spindly growth and any branches growing over each other to open out the plant. Remove approximately two-thirds of last year's growth. Basket plants need to be pruned back to the perimeter of the basket.
Spray old plants in early spring with clear tepid water to soften the wood and encourage green shoots.
October is the time to take tip cuttings from your favourite plants. Spring cuttings should be taken from the new soft growth. The cutting should be taken from the actual tip of the new growth, cut below the second or third set of leaves. Plant the small cuttings in a mixture of perlite and peat moss or coarse sand and peat moss in small 2.5cm tubes or place four or five cuttings in a 10cm pot. Leave in a light position and you will find that the cuttings will be showing signs of rooting within two to three weeks. Do not fertilise cuttings in their starting mix.
When the cuttings have started to grow and small white roots appear at the drain holes, carefully lift out and plant into a size larger pot in a light, well drained mix and again do not add any fertiliser until the plant is well established and even then be very sparing. To produce a good bushy plant, nip out the tiny growing tip of the plant after it has produced two to three sets of leaves. Some varieties of fuchsias, such as Heidi Ann, are self-branching and do not require continual pinching. Of course if you want to grow a standard, leave the growing tip intact and train the one stem upwards.
Commence fertilising your plants once new growth has been established with a fertiliser high in nitrogen to encourage lush growth. Towards the end of October the plants can then be fertilised with a fertiliser high in potash to encourage flowers. If fertilising your plants with blood and bone, add a small amount of sulphur of potash as per the directions on the packet. The plants benefit from a weak solution of fertiliser weekly, rather than a stronger dose at longer intervals.
Watch for aphids and whitefly, and if there has been excessive rain and the air is moist, rust can develp on fuchsia plants. If this occurs, remove the leaves and spray the whole plant with Mancozeb or a similar fungicide, remembering to also treat the soil. Make sure the plants have plenty of air circulating around them.
A question that is frequently asked: to what height should a standard fuchsia be grown? Measurements defined by the British Fuchsia Society as to the length of clear stem from soil to the lowest branches are as follows:
12” – 18” (300-460mm) – One quarter
18” – 30” (300-690mm) – Half standard
30”-42” (690-1070mm) – Full standard
During the periood of growing the standard to the desired height do not remove the leaves from the stem as they feed the plant and develop the trunk as it grows taller. However, do remove all lateral growth or side shoots that form at the leaf nodes, as this will increase the growth. When your plant is nearing the height you want, allow it to grow 3 or 4 pairs of leaves without removing the side shoots. When this is achieved it is time to remove the growing tip and allow the side shoots to develop and form the “head”.
Constant turning and pinching is now required, until the head is the required size and shape. Only then should the lower leaves be removed from the stem.
The young plant needs to be fed well and potted on as soon as roots reach the edge of the pot. If allowed to become pot bound it will have the tendency to bud or flower and removal of these will act as a stop and practically all upright growth will cease.
If growing a weeping standard with large heavy blooms it is advisable to use a wire frame to support the branches. An inverted wire basket is suitable for this. If using a support, pinch out the growing tip approximately 1” (25mm) below the top the stake and allow the side shoots to grow through the frame.
BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO FUCHSIAS
For some of our newer members who may be seeking help on the purchase of fuchsias for the next season, the following notes by the late Leo Boullemier will be of great interest.
One guide to use when choosing fuchsias for ease of cultivation is to check the date when they are bred. If that date is prior to 1940 and the fuchsias are still being listed by present-day nurseries, then one can assume that they are floriferous, easy to grow, vigorous plants. Also, any fuchsia that has withstood one hundred or so years of changing fashion in flower and method of cultivation is certainly worth including in an initial collection. After the last World War, hybridisers in America sought for large double flowers, exotic shapes and multi-coloured blooms. These may be left for a season until some experience has been obtained by growing the easy ones. Fuchsia colour can also indicate ease or difficulty of growth.
SINGLE RED & PURPLE FLOWERS are found on so many hardy or semi-hardy plants and are rarely difficult to grow.
RED & WHITE FLOWERS are often easy to grow and adaptable to situation ( I would leave Texas Longhorn alone for a while). No-one can go wrong with Checkerboard or any of those best described as the James Lye colouration - waxy white and carmine.
RED SELF-COLOURED FLOWERS are usually on strong growing plants. This colour often needs more water than most.
ORANGE COLOURED FLOWERS are often found on plants requiring less water. They can take more sunshine than most (e.g. Dancing Flame, Orange Drops).
WHITE & BLUE OR MAUVE FLOWERS need shade to prevent their sepals turning a dirty pink and the corolla reddish mauve. These fuchsias need careful watering and constant checking for red spider mite. Double flowers of this colouring are often found on plants needing careful cultivation.
PINK & WHITE FLOWERS vary much and cover a wide range of both habit and ease of growth. Pink selfs can be easy growers (e.g. Southgate).
WHITE FLOWERED fuchsias are the most demanding to grow well, requiring cool shade to prevent the flowers turning pinkish, much ventilation to keep botrytis away and plenty of spraying to keep red spider mite at bay. The flowers are also prone to bruising so they require to be well spaced out and handled carefully. There are many fairly easy growing singles in the white range, some with pinkish red tubes.
The above are merely an indication of how to avoid some of the pitfalls by starting with tried and true fuchsias.
The fuchsias listed below have been grown successfully in the Canberra region in past years and the list has been provided by members of the Society.
ACCLAMATION - Double, trailer. Sepals pale pink, streaked cream and rich pink. Basket variety.
ANNABEL- Double. White flushed rose, corolla white veined pink. Garden variety.
APPLAUSE - Double, trailer. Sepals cream to pale carmine. Corolla coral-orange. Basket variety.
BORDER QUEEN - Single, upright, self-branching. Sepals pink, corolla amethyst violet flushed pale pink. Garden variety.
CARMEL BLUE - Single, upright. Sepals white, corolla blue. Garden variety.
CAROLINE - Single, upright. Sepals pale pink, corolla pale lavender. Garden variety.
CELIA SMEDLEY - Single, upright. Sepals white, corolla currant red. Garden variety.
CHECKERBOARD - Single, upright. Sepals white/red, corolla red. Garden or basket.
COTTON CANDY - Double, upright. Sepals and corolla pale pink. Garden or basket.
DAISY BELL - Single, trailer. Sepals pale orange, corolla vermilion. Basket.
DIMPLES - Double, upright, self-branching. Sepals red, corolla white. Garden or basket.
DISPLAY - Single, upright. Sepals rose pink, corolla deep pink. Garden variety.
DODO - Single, semi-trailer. Sepals white, corolla magenta. Garden or basket.
ECLAT - Single, upright, self-branching. Red sepals, corolla white, flushed red. Garden or basket.
EMPRESS OF PRUSSIA - Single, upright. Sepals red, corolla reddish magenta. Garden or basket.
FLASH - Single, upright bush. Sepals and corolla light magenta. Garden variety.
HIDCOTE BEAUTY - Single, semi-trailer. Sepals waxy cream, corolla salmon pink. Basket.
LENA - Semi-double, semi-trailer. Sepals white, flushed pink, corolla rosy magenta flushed pink. Garden variety.
MARCUS GRAHAM - Double, upright. Large corolla, dusty peach. Garden or basket.
MISS LYE - Single, semi-trailer. Sepals white, corolla rose cerise. Basket.
MORE APPLAUSE - Double, semi-trailer. Sepals pale carmine, corolla cyclamen pink. Basket.
PACQUESA - Single, upright. Sepals deep red, corolla white. Garden variety.
PARTY FROCK - Semi-double, upright. Sepals rose pink, corolla blue, flushed pink. Garden.
PRESTON GUILD - Single, upright, self-branching. Sepals white, corolla violet blue. Garden variety.
SLEIGH BELLS - Single, upright. Sepals white, white bell-shaped corolla. Garden variety.
SOUTHGATE - Double, trailer. Sepals medium pink, corolla soft pink. Garden or basket.
SWINGTIME - Double, lax habit. Sepals rich red, corolla white veined red. Basket.
VOODOO - Double, upright. Sepals dark red, corolla dark purple violet. Garden variety.
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