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How to care for fuchsias

PUBLISHED: 16:05 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:05 28 July 2016

Lovely fuchsias

Lovely fuchsias

isuaneye

The experts at Monkton Elm reveal how a retro favourite has evolved over the years

For many years flower show displays everywhere positively dripped with fuchsia flowers of every type imaginable, some slender, others over-the-top blousy, though always graceful. Skilful exhibitors could collect, nurture and show hundreds of varieties and enthusiasts could join a society to learn more.

In recent years though, in garden centres, we have seen the shift from the tender fuchsias (needing winter protection) to hardy varieties, which make fantastic garden plants. Reliable year after year they really earn their keep once autumn arrives, as they do particularly well once the summer heat has gone. In fact, the climate of the South West suits them perfectly.

- Plant hardy fuchsias in May, so that they can become established properly before winter sets in. Any grown in large pots for the summer should be planted out in the autumn and mulched with 8-10cm of organic matter, although standard fuchsias should be treated as non-hardy regardless, as they are considerably more vulnerable than bush fuchsias, and taken inside for winter.

- When growing hardy fuchsias in the ground they are best planted so that the base of the stem is 5cm (2”) below the soil surface. This will help to protect the plant during winter weather. They do well in semi shade, out of the heat of the sun. Don’t cut their woody stems down until the worst frost is past in the spring, to give them a little protection.

- When growth reappears in spring, feed with high nitrogen fertilizer, to get the plant growing well, then use a more balanced feed to strengthen the stems. Finally give the plants some potash, such as tomato food, to induce a mass of flowers.

- There are hundreds of hardy fuchsias to choose from, here are a few of our favourites: Dollar Princess – a bush variety bearing a profusion of purple and cerise flowers over a particularly long period on vigorous, upright stems. This popular hardy fuchsia holds an RHS AGM for its excellent garden performance. Plant at the front of mixed borders.

Autumnale – This lovely trailing variety has stunning variegated leaves of coppery red with single red and purple flowers. Perfect for hanging baskets and containers, it can also be used as groundcover in the border.

Tom Thumb – the perfect choice for a small garden. This compact, dwarfing variety has large red and purple flowers. It does well in pots or borders.

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