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9 July 2021

How to grow fuchsias

Fuchsias are beautiful for patio pots and baskets. Discover our best fuchsia varieties and tips for how to grow them.
CT
Ceri Thomas
Fuchsias

Fuchsias are best known as tender plants for summer patio pots and baskets. 

There are both upright and trailing forms and hundreds of varieties. They can't go out until the danger of the frost in mid to late May. There are also hardy varieties that can stay in borders all year round.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties to find out which are the best.

How to grow fuchsias: month by month

January
February
March
April
May
June



PLANT/PRUNE
PLANT/MOVE OUTSIDE
FLOWERING
July
August
September
October
November
December
FLOWERING
FLOWERING
FLOWERING
FLOWERING/MOVE INDOORS


Best fuchsia varieties

Which members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best Buy tender fuchsias for pots and baskets
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
30 x 70cm
If you’re a fan of large-flowered fuchsias, but prefer more subtle colours, the cream and bluey mauve blooms of this variety are a fantastic choice. The double flowers, which can grow up to 8cm wide, turn more pink as they age, adding to the overall effect. Like many of the larger-flowered fuchsias, the blooms did get damaged by the rain, but this variety soon recovered, putting out plenty of new buds. Peak flowering: June to September.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
50 x 70cm
A mix of cerise top petals and cream lower petals, swirled with pink, and long pink stamens make this variety an eye-catching choice for a basket. It’s a semi-trailing variety, so gave height as well as producing dangling stems from the basket, making an elegant shape. It was covered in flowers for 11 weeks from June to September, including after a summer storm, making it one of the longest flowering varieties on test. Peak flowering: June to September.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
30 x 65cm
Another classic fuchsia with smaller flowers, the delicate blushing pink and cream double flowers of  this variety were set off well by the mid-green foliage. It filled the basket, producing lots of trailing stems. It needed deadheading to keep the flowers coming, though, but it was worth the effort as the basket was filled with blooms for 10 weeks, well into September. Unlike some others on test, it wasn’t damaged by heavy rain. Peak flowering: June to September.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
20 x 65cm
The bold colour combination of scarlet and dark pink make this variety a show-stopping fuchsia. It’s a floriferous variety with a multitude of single flowers hanging among the dark leaves. The open habit makes it ideal to share space with other plants if you prefer a mixed hanging basket. It gave us nine weeks of continuous colour. A great Best Buy, this fuchsia also holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Peak flowering: June to September.
Best Buy hardy fuchsias
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
65 x 90cm
This was one of the first varieties to come into flower in north London, where it was in bloom for more than three months. It was slightly later to flower in Scotland. At both trial sites, the plants grew strongly into nicely shaped, rounded shrubs with handsome dark-green leaves. Although the flowers were fairly small, every stem produced scores of them, so they made a colourful impact well into autumn. Peak flowering: July to October.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
125 x 120cm
Many of the hardiest fuchsias in the trial had relatively small, less-showy flowers than some of the tender varieties. So we were pleased to find that this variety had impressive blooms and grew back strongly after winter in both trial gardens. The plants developed into fairly large shrubs, and although they weren’t the longest flowering in the trial, they did look very attractive when they were at their best.  Peak flowering: July to September.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
65 x 95cm
This unusual fuchsia is best known for its yellow leaves with red veins and red stems, especially early in the year – and we thought they gave it real impact. The neatly domed and bushy plants had a lovely shape, too. None of the plants flowered as well in the second year of our trial as they did in the first, but the contrast of red-and-purple blooms against the lime-yellow leaves was strong enough to look good anyway. Peak flowering: August to October.
What it looks like
Variety name
Height x spread
100 x 105cm
These tough and reliable shrubs shrugged off winter and were the first to come back into flower in Scotland. They had a very upright shape, densely packed dark-green leaves and grew quite large, so would be suited to growing as a natural-looking hedge. They were dripping with small and beautiful pink flowers, which gave them an overall simple-but elegant look, and they were some of the few to be regularly visited by bees. Peak flowering: August to October.

How we test fuchsias

We grew a number of hardy varieties at both our Which? Gardening magazine trial garden at Capel Manor College, north London, where the soil is well drained and rainfall is relatively light; and in Greenbank Garden, Glasgow, where the soil is heavy clay, rainfall is very high and winters are consistently colder than in the south. We grew them for two years.

For the tender fuchsias, we grew a number of varieties in hanging baskets at Capel Manor and assessed them over summer.

Caring for your plants

Planting tender fuchsias

Plant your tender fuchsias in a Best Buy compost for containers mixed with a Best Buy controlled-release fertiliser. Put three plants in a 40cm hanging basket. Water in and then keep the compost moist, but not waterlogged. Put the basket outside once the danger of frost has passed in mid to late May. Although fuchsias will tolerate sun, they prefer partial shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day in summer.

Planting hardy fuchsias

Hardy fuchsias should be planted outside in late spring or early summer, so that they establish well before the first frosts. It’s best to grow on plugs or small plants in a Best Buy compost for raising young plants so that the roots fill a pot of at least 9cm diameter before you do this. 

When it comes to planting out, put them in slightly deeper (1.5-2.5cm) than the soil line of the pot, as this will help to protect them from the cold in winter. Fuchsias need a spot in sun or partial shade, and soil that is well drained but doesn’t dry out too readily in summer.

Pinching out

If your young plants are leggy, pinch out the growing tips after two or three pairs of leaves have formed. This will stimulate side-shoots to grow.

Deadheading

Remove the flowers as they fade to encourage the plant to produce more.

Feeding

Feed with tomato feed from the end of summer, or earlier if the leaves on your fuchsia become pale.

Discover our

Taking cuttings

It’s very easy to take cuttings from fuchsias. Using clean secateurs, cut the stem to just above the point where a leaf joins the stem to take a 5-10cm long cutting. Trim the cutting to just under the point where the leaf joins the stem. Remove lower leaves to leave just one pair of leaves at the top. Try to take cuttings from stems that haven’t developed buds, but if they have, remove them. Place the cuttings in pots of a Best Buy compost for raising young plants. You can overwinter your cuttings on a bright windowsill or in a greenhouse that stays above 7°C.

Overwintering tender fuchsias

The majority of trailing fuchsias are tender, so if you want to overwinter them they need to be kept in a frost-free space with plenty of light, such as a heated greenhouse. It’s best to take cuttings as insurance, too.

Overwintering hardy fuchsias

A mulch of straw or well-rotted compost around the base of the plant in late autumn may help it survive winter. Leaving woody growth on the plant over winter will offer frost protection, too. When the plant starts to regrow in spring, cut it back hard to around 10-15cm above ground level to encourage new growth.

Common growing problems

Rust

The first signs of this disease are yellowing leaves, with red pustules on the undersides. To treat it, remove affected leaves or spray with a suitable fungicide. Remember, fuchsias can be damaged by fungicide, so test by only spraying a few leaves first.

Fuchsia gall mite

Fuchsia gall mite is a microscopic sap-sucker that is particular to fuchsias. Symptoms of the pest are swelling and distortion of the leaves and stem. Growth at the shoot tips can also become a mass of distorted tissue. Treat it by cutting off any infected shoot tips to remove the mites and check over your plants every week in case more mites appear. Alternatively, destroy the infected plants.

Read more about fuchsia gall mite 

Greenfly

Squash any greenfly that appear on your plants before they can weaken growth by sucking the sap.

Read more about greenfly