Getting ready for summer: standard fuchsias

Fuchsias are easy, obliging plants and even though not all are frost hardy I would hate to be without them. One of my favourites is ‘Checkerboard’ an old fuchsia that was bred in the USA and introduced in 1948. It is distinct in that it has narrow, tubular flowers with a red tube, white sepals and red petals, giving a very crisp neat effect. It has a very upright habit that makes it suitable for training in lots of ways but especially as a standard. To grow a standard takes at least a year, the first season to make a tall stem and then a second to build up a head. In that first year you have to try to get the stem as tall as possible, growing without a break, so all sideshoots are removed and all flowers. Leave the leaves on the stem to help it to thicken but even so it will need staking all its life. At this stage it should have a general plant food and not a high-potash food because you want growth, not flowers. It is also worth looking for shoots with three leaves rather than pairs because these will grow more strongly AND when you get to pinching out the tip and making the head, those three buds will give a better head.

I have three young ‘Checkboard’ plants for this purpose and will ‘stop’ them at different heights so I can have three at different sizes. The first is ready for a pinch now it has about 80cm of stem. I will let the others reach 110cm and 140cm or so. Once the tip is removed the sideshoots should be pinched out after two or three sets of leaves and repinched again and again. I will aim to get them to the required height by the end of autumn and then begin pinching out in spring. I will get a reasonable display next year but then I can keep them for many years after that.

You can grow any kind as a standard, including trailing kinds though it is trickier to get the tall stem. But once you have their weeping habit is very attractive. Be careful with some of the moder kinds sold as bedding because they are very bushy and not easy to get to grow decent stems.

 

 

 

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3 Comments on “Getting ready for summer: standard fuchsias”

  1. Meriel
    September 29, 2019 at 11:35 am #

    Sounds lovely – or they will be!

  2. tonytomeo
    September 30, 2019 at 5:57 am #

    They get pinched with just two or three pairs of leaves! That would make them very fluffy and dense, unless the internodes are quite long. I never payed much attention to how many nodes there were on pinched stems.

    • thebikinggardener
      September 30, 2019 at 7:07 pm #

      the aim is to make a dense head, and this variety does have long internodes.

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