Fuchsias, flowering perennials valued for their shade tolerance and abundant blooming, produce evergreen foliage and ornamental flowers in shades of white, pink, red, purple or any combination of these colors. The plant's tubular flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. Commonly grown as a container plant in most of the country, fuchsia survives outdoors during the winter only in the southernmost areas of the United States. Gardeners in cooler climates must overwinter the plant indoors.
Site and Soil
Fuchsia thrives indoors near east, west or south facing windows, where it receives bright, indirect light. The plant may spend spring and summer outdoors in a shady location out of direct sunlight. Fuchsia grows best in well-drained, moist potting soil. The plant performs well at a daily temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 F to 60 F at night. Fuchsia requires low nightly temperatures during spring for flower bud formation. The plant dislikes heat, and flowering ceases completely when temperatures rise above 76 F.
Fuchsia plants benefit from regular watering during the active growing season, usually about once every five to seven days. Applying water when the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch keeps the plant healthy and prevents leaf drop. Gradually reducing the watering frequency during fall helps prepare the plant for its winter resting period. Fuchsia requires very little supplemental watering during the winter months, just enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely.
A heavy feeder, the fuchsia plant thrives with regular fertilizing once every two to four weeks during spring and summer. A complete 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer adds plenty of nutrients to the soil, which boosts growth and flowering. The plant does not require fertilizing during fall or winter. For the best results, it should receive no more fertilizer after the first frost of fall.
Fuchsia is hardy is U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 8 to 10, and outside this area gardeners should transfer fuchsia indoors prior to the first frost of fall and place it in a location that receives indirect light. The plant prefers temperatures of 45 to 50 F during the winter months. Once spring arrives and temperatures rise above 60 F, transferring the plant back outdoors to its original location initiates active growth.
Pinching the plant's shoots after two sets of leaves form results in a fuller, bushier growth habit and encourages the plant to fill its entire container. Cease this practice a month before the first frost of fall, to prepare the plant for winter. A hard pruning during late winter or early spring, just before placing the plant back outside, encourages the formation of new growth. This is important for blooming, as flowers only appear on new, green growth.
Fuchsia requires repotting about once every two years, or whenever it outgrows its container. For the best results, gardeners should repot the plant immediately after active growth resumes in spring. Shaking off the old soil from the roots allows them to absorb nutrients from the fresh soil. An ideal potting mix consists of one part peat moss, one part potting soil and one part vermiculite or perlite. Using a new container several inches larger in diameter than the previous pot provides plenty of room for new root growth.