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Fuchsia Plant Care: How to Plant, Grow and Care for Fuchsias

Fuchsia Plant

If you have a shady location that could use a pop of color, growing fuchsias in hanging baskets or pots will give you a beautiful display. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about fuchsia plant care to get the best blooms.

Fuchsias with their exquisite shape and bold colors offer a nice change of pace from the trailing petunias you see in containers everywhere.

This tropical plant was discovered in the area now known as Haiti in 1687, where it was growing wild. Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) also thrives in tropical areas like South and Central America, Mexico, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.

Most gardeners grow dwarf varieties of these lush flowers as annuals, but in warmer climates, hardy fuchsia varieties can be grown in the garden as perennials that develop woody stems and a bushy habit.

 

Botanical Name: Fuchsia (Group)

Common Name: Fuchsia

Family: Onagraceae

Plant Type: Shrub, annual

Hardiness Zones: 8 – 10 (USDA) – depending on the variety

Sun Exposure: Shade, no full sun

Soil Type: Moist, well-draining

Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0 (Neutral to acidic)

Maturity: 2-3 weeks from cutting to bloom

Height: 1 ft (trailing varieties) to 5 feet (hardy varieties)

Spacing: 3-4 inches in containers; 12 inches in gardens

Bloom Time: Spring, summer, fall

Flower Color: Pink, red, white, violet, purple

Native Area: Central and South America, New Zealand, Mexico, and Costa Rica

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Fuchsia

  • Exceptional flowers in bold colors for shady spots
  • Perfect for hanging baskets and containers
  • Not frost- or cold-tolerant
  • Needs consistent water to stay healthy and full
  • For best performance, propagate from cuttings or starts, not seed
  • Watch for aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, thrips, and fungus

Fuchsia Plant Care

Even though there are more than a hundred species of woody shrubs and trees in the Fuchsia genus, the garden fuchsia most commonly found in nurseries and other garden centers are hybrids developed specifically for use in hanging baskets and other containers.

While fuchsias do well as perennials in warm climate gardens, they are more commonly grown as annuals in containers and thrown out when the weather turns cold, or brought inside and given bright light and controlled conditions to survive the winter.

Despite being somewhat sensitive to moisture and temperature, fuchsias are considered an easy-to-grow container plant. Most will thrive in partial to complete shade.

They dislike high temperatures and especially dry heat. With the proper watering schedule and humidity levels, these plants are relatively simple to maintain.

The native areas for fuchsia are Central and South America, as well as New Zealand,  and Tahiti. A few hardy fuchsias survive in areas with mild winters, though the majority are grown as annuals in the United States.

Light

These plants thrive in conditions ranging from partial to complete shade. They prefer bright indirect light rather than direct sunlight when grown indoors.

Soil

Fuchsia plants prefer soil that is consistently moist but not soggy wet and has a high organic matter ratio. Also, the soil should be able to drain well.

Before planting in-ground plants, amending the soil with peat moss or compost is recommended. Plants in containers only need a pot with good drainage and a regular peat-based potting mix.

Water

Fuchsias prefer moist but not soggy conditions. They thrive in humidity, so if you live somewhere dry, you may need to pay special attention to this to take care of your fuchsia plant.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are best for fuchsias, but some heat-tolerant cultivars can keep their blooms up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also a few varieties of shrubs that can withstand freezing temperatures.

If you live in a dry climate, you may need to mist your fuchsia plants in order to keep them adequately moist.

It can be difficult to keep these plants healthy and happy indoors due to the low humidity levels. So keep a humidifier running nearby your fuchsia plants throughout the dry months of winter in order to prevent the air from becoming excessively dry.

Fertilizer

Fuchsias require frequent feedings of diluted liquid fertilizer throughout their blooming season. A mixture of fish emulsion and seaweed can be effective.

Pruning

Pruning a fuchsia plant on a regular basis can keep it blooming and vibrant. It is also acceptable to prune heavily. It will recover and be stronger as a result.

For trailing fuchsia, you can cut off any growth that is thin or brittle at any time. A light trim in the early fall and spring would be beneficial to clean up any dead stems on bushy perennial fuchsia.

Overwintering

Hanging basket varieties can be overwintered with a little care. At the end of the growing season, remove all leaves and clip stems back to 6 inches long. Store in a dark location with a consistent temperature, like a basement or storage area.

Water 2-3 times during the winter (choose holidays like Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day to help you remember), and hang outside when days get warmer, about 4 weeks before the last frost. Protect from the nighttime cold by storing them in the garage.

In the garden, clip back long stems, remove any leaves or debris that could harbor pests, and mulch.

How to Get Fuchsia Plant to Bloom

Fuchsias only bloom on new growth, so keep that in mind. When a flower starts to fade, pinch it back to allow for new growth. In the majority of cases, your efforts will be rewarded with the growth of a fresh, beautiful flower in a matter of weeks.

You can get multiple blooms from a fuchsia plant in a single season if you pinch back the flowers as needed. After six weeks of pinching back the stem, if you still don’t see any new flowers, cut the stem back even more to the first strong node and give it more time to develop.

Types of Fuchsia

The fuchsia cultivars that are most commonly used for garden containers can be broken down into two categories: those that have trailing growth habits, which are ideal for hanging baskets, and those that have upright growth habits, which are ideal for large containers.

There are dozens of cultivars to choose from, depending on your preferences for flower color and growth habits. Here are some great options you can check out:

  • Swingtime: This trailing variety features white inner petals with ruffled edges and bright red outer sepals.
  • Army Nurse: This variety has upright, bushy growth and bears flowers with purple petals that are surrounded by red sepals. It looks great in big pots or as a garden plant.
  • Rapunzel: This trailing plant has purple and pinkish-white flowers. Its stems can extend for up to two feet.
  • Phyllis: This is a tall variety with deep red petals and lighter rose-red sepals.
  • Molonae: This is a lovely, upright deciduous shrub known for its hardiness and delicate flowers. It can withstand temperatures as low as -10°F. Cut it down to the ground in the fall.
  • Neon Tricolor: This variety of fuchsia is upright and tolerant of low temperatures between zero and ten degrees Fahrenheit. It has pink, orange, and yellow flowers.
  • Queen Esther: This is a bushy, upright shrub with broad, light green foliage. It prefers heat over cold, making it an excellent choice for warmer areas.

How to Plant and Grow Fuchsia Plants

Site Preparation

Most fuchsia are grown as annuals in hanging baskets, so choose a rich potting soil with plenty of organic matter that can retain moisture.

If you’re in a warmer area where fuchsia can overwinter, their planting site still needs rich soil that drains well and plenty of water. Use fertilizer at half strength throughout the growing season.

Note: Without consistent, frequent watering, fuchsia will wilt and look horrible. Keep an eye on them during hot, dry spells, watering in the morning and evening if needed.

Our guide on choosing flowers will help you integrate fuchsias into a beautiful year-long display, and our guide on growing flowers will tell you exactly how to care for ornamental plants.

How to Plant Fuchsia

For best results, choose cuttings or nursery starts. For containers or hanging baskets, plant them 4 inches apart. In zones 8-10, you can plant cuttings into the garden about 12 inches apart.

To create your own cuttings, clip 2-3-inch pieces from the end of a branch, dip the cut end in rooting hormone and place the prepared cutting in soilless media or damp sand. Water regularly, and transplant when you see new leaf growth. Aeroponic systems make process this very easy.

Starting fuchsia from seed is tricky because germination is unpredictable, both in timing and producing plants that are true to their parents. If you want to try this experiment, place seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover with soil or vermiculite. Cover loosely with plastic, keep warm and wait. Seedlings will appear in a few days or up to a few weeks.

Note: Fuchsia are sensitive to cold, so do not set outside until all danger of frost has passed.

Seed Saving Instructions

Do not deadhead flowers; allow the petals to fall off and the seed pods, called berries, to develop. Pick these fresh berries, and open them to reveal the seeds inside. Rinse the seeds and allow them to completely dry on plate or other clean, flat surface. This can take up to a week.

Choose the largest, healthiest-looking seeds and store inside a paper bag that you place inside an airtight container.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Fuchsia Plants

Most pests and diseases can be avoided by planting in clean pots and providing good ventilation. Do not overwater.

Fuchsias are susceptible to attacks from aphids, whiteflies, spider mites and thrips. When bringing plants indoors for the winter, these can be especially problematic. Sprays containing neem oil or insecticidal soaps are the most effective means of controlling these pests.

Watch for signs of botrytis during heavy rains or damp weather. For severe infestations, choose organic remedies for pest control or fungus.

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