Fuchsias in Heat
Al Sydnor, American Fuchsia Society
Former AFS President
July / August 2006 American Fuchsia Society Bulletin
As AFS Webmaster I have received many inquiries concerning growing fuchsias in the heat. Fuchsias fascinate gardeners from arid state of Arizona to Florida with its humid, hot summers. This is a perplexing problem as growers in northern Europe, who do not comprehend the harsh desert heat of the southern United States, write most of the fuchsia literature.
If a gardener can create a similar environment that the native plant came from he will have a better chance growing that plant. The fuchsia is native to Central and South America where it is found generally at higher elevations and near water.
Fuchsias will tolerate light morning sun and high filtered shade in the afternoon. Because they prefer a cool, humid garden there are several ways to create this. A misting system on a timer is an excellent solution. There are commercial patio misting systems available that can do this quite well. People, who are home all day can mist with a fogger nozzle on the end of a hose. Before misting run the water until it is cold. A small fountain will also give off humidity that will cool the plant. Planting companion plants will also help retain moisture.
Plant location and selection are important. In the garden are microclimates in which the fuchsias will not do well, such is an area without enough air circulation or the shade is too dense. Fuchsias in the shades of reds, and oranges and single blossoms hold up better to the heat but not the direct hot sun. Large double blossoms do poorly in the heat of the day. Those fuchsias planted in the ground do best as the roots are in the cool soil, and the plants do not have to rely so much on human care. The container has a lot too do with plant survival as plastic is thin and the roots get too hot. Wood or clay pots are the best as they are thicker and breathe. Large twenty-inch terracotta pots do well. Because they are so large, the root ball does not heat up as much, and the plant retains more moisture. Lowering hanging baskets during a heat wave helps them as it is cooler at ground level. Hot dry winds are especially hard on fuchsias so they may need a windbreak or be moved to a protected area.
Water can be a lifesaver, but it can also be a detriment. Water fuchsias in the early morning if possible or late in the evening if necessary. In the heat of the day, do not water a limp plant. Just mist it and the area around it. Fuchsias Òshut downÓ to conserve moisture and adding water to the soil blocks oxygen from the roots and so drowns the plant.
These are a few suggestions to help fuchsias in heat above 85°F