Pushed too far – fuchsias strike back

I posted the other day about growing standard fuchsias. Of course not everything always goes to plan as I found out last year. I grew various standards as an experiment and most were fine. Cuttings were taken of ‘Beacon Rosa’ which is a pretty plain and boring pink fuchsia, common because it is easy and reliable, ‘Genii’ a yellow-leaved hardy fuchsia with small red and purple flowers, and ‘Jack Shahan’ a good deep pink/red trailing variety. The results were mixed. ‘Genii’ grew well, though with thin stems. The biggest problem was that it kept suckering from below ground – I should have removed possible buds from the base of the cutting. But they made good standards until a summer storm snapped one off. My fault for not staking better.

The biggest problem was with ‘Jack Shahan’. It is always a problem making standards from trailing fuchsias because they don’t really want to grow upwards for a metre! But I removed sideshoots, kept them tied to a stake and fed heavily to make a strong leader. But despite all my efforts, they rebelled.

Just like trying to take a cat for a walk on a lead, things did not go to plan.

When I finally pinched out the growing tips late last summer so they could start to form a head, the plants had had enough. Instead of throwing shoots from the leaf axils the plants were so desperate to bloom, or so fed up with growing the way I had forced them, they produced strange growths that were basically flowers but part shoots. The flower pedicels produced leaves. I am sure this is not unique but I have never seen it before. In the least upsetting examples, the flowers were normal and had a pair, or more, of leaves on the pedicel. It looked quite cute but this was supposed to be a shoot that was going to be pinched out and make the head. Because this was a pedicel not a growth shoot there were no axillary buds at the base of the leaves so no subsequent growth.

In more extreme examples these flowers had leaves on the pedicels and leaves on the ovary too – though part leaf and part sepal. In addition the flowers had more parts than usual and had five or six sepals. In the most extreme examples the flowers had multiple parts with leaves on the ovary and general distortion.

The good news is that, by pinching all this weird stuff off I managed to force the plants to make good shoots but because the mechanical structure of the head was weakened the crowns of the plants were not very stable and they do not look great. They have been vulnerable to wind damage this summer, and goodness knows what the storm forecast today will do to them.

I will keep them for next year and they should be a lot better – after all, once you have created a standard fuchsia you can keep it for many years and it should get better each year.

To keep fuchsias from one year to the next they should be kept moist, but free from frost, in winter. Unlike pelargoniums, which can be dried off and kept almost leafless in winter, fuchsias will not tolerate drought so must always be kept just moist. They may lose their leaves but they will survive. Of course you can leave them in a cold greenhouse or outside and hope for the best – they will often send up shoots from the base in spring and act like a herbaceous plant – but you don’t want that to happen if you have trained it as a standard!

If you have nothing better, an almost foolproof way to keep large fuchsias is to wait till the leaves have dropped after the first really cold night, then lay them, on their sides, on the soil outside and cover them with a mound of old compost or bark. Thus interred they will be protected from frost and when, Burke and Hare–style, you resurrrect them in early March, they will be ready to repot and may already be sprouting.

, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

An Irish Gardener

Gardening in Ireland, our own garden, gardens visited and book reviews

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

Botanical Journey from the South

Photographic Journals from the South

Flowery Prose

Welcome to Flowery Prose! Growing words about writing, gardening, and outdoors pursuits in Alberta, Canada.

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to conserve the nations garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow

HERITAGE IRISES

An English experience of gardening in Ireland - and back in the UK

%d bloggers like this: