Fuchsias are coming back into fashion. These are the exotic, hanging bell-shaped flowers that come in so many shades and combinations of pink, purple, red and white.

They flower profusely from June right up to the first frosts. They suit flower borders and beds, patios, containers and cottage gardens. They do very well in shady town gardens.


Tender fuchsias or hardy ones?

Tender, half-hardy fuchsias don't survive if the temperature drops below 4-5C, so they have to be overwintered in a frost-free place to keep them going for next year. Bush fuchsias (ideal in beds and borders) and trailing or basket fuchsias (perfect for hanging baskets and containers) are both tender.

Hardy fuchsias are bushy varieties that are frost-tolerant and will survive the winter out in the garden to flower year after year. A word of caution, though. Some varieties are perfectly hardy in mild climates (Cornwall, West Wales, Argyll, parts of Ireland) but may not be hardy in more exposed or colder regions.

Some hardy varieties are climbers. Other varieties are grown as hedges in some areas.

How to plant fuchsias out in the garden

Hardy fuchsias don’t like being moved. So choose:

  • somewhere sheltered so the flowers won’t be blown off
  • somewhere with well-drained soil
  • somewhere out of the midday and afternoon sun if possible.

Against a west-facing wall is often a good place.

  • Plant hardy varieties by the end of May so they will be established by winter. Plant half-hardy varieties after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Dig a good planting hole to accommodate the rootball easily and fork in plenty of well-rotted organic matter.
  • Plant half-hardy fuchsias at the same depth as they were growing, and so the top of roots are level with the soil surface. Plant hardy fuchsias deeper, with 2.5-5cm (1-2in) of the stems below soil level.
  • Mix more organic matter into the excavated soil and fill the planting hole.
  • Firm plants and water in well.
  • Apply a granular general feed over the soil around the plant.
  • Mulch with a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) layer of well-rotted garden compost or bark chippings around the root area.
Fuschias by Dinkum

Fuschias by Dinkum. Public domain

Care in the spring

Prune in spring once the plant is in active growth. Hardy plants can be pruned quite hard to maintain a neat shape.

Top up half-hardy fuchsias in containers with fresh compost and some slow-release fertiliser. Place them in a sheltered spot and in slight shade.

Pinch out plants early in the season. The bushier they are, the more they flower – six to eight weeks after being pinched out.

Care in the summer

Feed the plants with a high potash feed (tomato feed) to get them flowering really well.

Care in the autumn

Don’t prune fuchsias in autumn as this can open them up to pests and diseases, and to frost damage in severe winters.

Care in the winter

Overwinter half-hardy plants in a cool, frost-free place, out of direct sunlight but with good light. Give them some air and reduce watering.

Fuchsia 'Freundeskreis Leonberg'. Fuchsias

Fuchsia 'Freundeskreis Leonberg'. © Dominicus Johannes Bergsma and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Which fuchsia?

There are hundreds of varieties. Have a look at these recommendations from Gardeners’ World. And consider Fuchsia magellanica, a reliable hardy type that’s often used as a hedge. In milder parts it grows quickly to 1.5m and has red flowers all summer.

Looking across Streamstown Bay, County Galway. In the foreground is a Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica), a common feature of western Ireland roadsides. Fuchsias

Looking across Streamstown Bay, County Galway. In the foreground is a fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica), a common feature of western Ireland roadsides. © Ian Capper and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Fuchsias are at their best now and will flower until the autumn. Choose them for your garden and be ahead of the curve!