There are around 100 species, many cultivars and hybrids.
Smaller varieties are readily grown in pots and hanging baskets, as an ornamental shrub, taller varieties can be grown as bushes in garden beds, on embankments, or as standards - dwarf varieties are occasionally grafted onto taller rootstock.
They grow well under a sparse cover taller shade trees providing protection from extreme weather.
Most are shrubs, but there is also some trees and small trailing plants.
Leaves are whorled or opposite & entire.
Tubular flowers have four usually colourful sepals, and occur in a wide variety of colours, from late spring to late autumn.
They can be grown in most areas, except where frosts are severe. The ideal temperatures are neither extreme heat or cold. They grow outdoors in mild climates, or indoors in very cold climates (ie: avoid frosts and snow). Extreme heat, or direct sun on a hot day can cause damage.
They prefer semi shade or filtered sunlight -not too dark.
Traditionally fuchsias grow best in a compost based soil (ie: High in organic content), such as a mixture of 50% peat moss and 50% fine sandy loam or sand.
The following mix developed at John Innes Research Station (U.K.) has also proven ideal:
7 parts loam (Through a medium sieve)
3 parts peat moss
2 parts coarse sand
Pine bark based mixes can work, but the bark must be well composted to remove all toxins.
Drainage must be freely draining, but having some water retention. Wilting can occur easily on hot days. They require plenty of water during the warmer months.
Feed frequently with a general liquid fertiliser. Osmocote or other slow release fertilisers can be incorporated into the potting mix. Feed at least every 2 to 4 months during the growing season.
Regular light pruning will help keep them compact and bushy. They will take a very hard pruning (best after the cold weather). Pruning promotes young growth, which bears the flowers; and is needed to ensure good flowering.
Fuchsias are normally propagated by cuttings. They are generally only propagated by seed as a method of breeding new varieties. Seedlings vary in their characteristics (ie. they may have a different shape, habit, flower colour etc. to the plant which you collect the seed from). Different seedlings from the same batch of seed could vary a lot. Seed does germinate relatively easily. Cuttings strike easily also. The main problem with propagation is in keeping the young plants free of disease. It is essential to propagate in clean conditions and use disease free propagating mixes.
Fuschias grow well with most annuals which do not share the same pests (eg. Alyssum, Begonia, Nasturtium, Sweet Pea, Wallflower, etc).
For safe pest control garlic, chives and other onion like plants are said to reduce incidence of problems such as rust and some insects.
Pests may include aphis, beetles, caterpillars, mites, thrip, mealy bug and white fly.
Rust, wilt, blight and root rots are diseases that may occasionally develop.
There are many thousands of fuchsia cultivars that are grown; and most are both spectacular and easy to grow. Those that are available will vary from place to place and time to time; however, most will fall into one of the following categories; and it is on the basis of these categories that you should choose what plants to grow.
*BUSHES (also called small uprights).
These are low, strongly branching shrubs.
Eg. F. triphylla - small bushy plant with orange-red clusters of flowers.
F. ‘Danny Boy’ – very large blooms of white and red.
These are taller shrubs or small trees, some of which can grow to 5 metres or more.
Eg. F. arborescens (lilac fuchsia) – Small tree capable of reaching 7m. Produces small rose-lilac clusters of flowers. Generally pruned and kept as a large garden shrub.
Trained to grow on a single stem, or trunk; with branching commencing at no less than 79cm from
the ground and no more than 107cm from the ground. The top is generally trained to form a well
shaped round ball. Creepers (ie: rockery types) are sometimes grafted onto the top of a taller stem
to produce a weeping standard.
*ROCKERY PLANTS (Creepers or Basket Plants)
Fuchsias which spread out low to the ground, used in rockeries; sometimes used in baskets,
spreading and hanging over the sides.
The plant is trained to grow on a single two dimensional plane, either against a wall or fence, or
using stakes in a pot.
NOTE: Other methods of training (like espalier and standard) are used to produce ‘Pyramid’, ‘Pillar’ and ‘Fan’ types.