Winter and fuchsia care all depends on where you live. In Belgium we visited a man who over-wintered his fuchsias in trenches covered over with tree boughs, pine needles and mulch. Fuchsias are often grown as annuals in the Midwest and Eastern United States, rather than protecting them from freezing.
Winter Fuchsia Care
Elsie Sydnor Editor
Winter Fuchsia Care
Elsie Sydnor Editor
Here on the West Coast, our winters are not so difficult. Fuchsias bloom into November and even December if temperatures stay mild. Frosty nights are actually a problem for only a few nights each winter. Of course, the farther north, or the farther inland we are, cold temperatures pose more problems.
Generally, we should all follow some basic steps to help fuchsias make it through the next few months. Neglect can kill fuchsias now as quickly as the hottest summer days can. Fuchsias have bloomed for many months so they deserve a rest.
Clean up is a good place to start. Get rid of dead leaves and debris out of containers and around the plants in the ground. Clean up the area where plants will be stored during the cold months. Benches would benefit with a good scrubbing. Put a little bleach in the water to sterilize them. Check nametags to be sure they are still readable and that they are attached to the plant. If plants are going to be packed into a small area, trim some of the excess growth off to save space. Leave a walkway so that you can check the plants for water.
Fuchsias will not need fertilizer while they are at rest, but the roots need to be kept damp. If they are left where the rain will water them, raise them up off the ground a bit so the water can run through. If it does not rain for several days or they are where the rain does not reach them, they need to be checked regularly, more often the warmer it is. Devise a method to remind yourself to check them regularly. Lack of water can be fatal.
Protecting container plants from wind and driving rains is pretty simple. Protecting them from frost requires more effort. A moist root ball freezes more slowly than a dry one, so watering before a freeze is essential. Covering or walling plants in, using old bed sheets, burlap sacking, newspapers or plastic sheeting works well. Use stakes to hold the covering up off the plants themselves.
Standard fuchsias are at great risk because of their bare trunks. Bonsai, with so little soil in their containers are worrisome, also. If you have a very special plant or twoor few, bring them inside overnight!
Plants in the ground are in danger of having frost damage on their leaves and smallest branches. But they are more vigorous and less dependent because they have more earth around them. If the base of the plant is protected with mulch, the roots will just send up new growth in the spring. Triphylla type fuchsias are quite frost tender, so they need some extra covering on the coldest nights. First Success blooms in late February or early March if it is a mild winter, but frost will damage the growing tips and ruin the early bloom.
Spraying with a dormant spray in late November and again in late December keeps the critters from over-wintering, including, hopefully the fuchsia gall mite. After the major pruning in late January or February another shot of dormant spray is good insurance. Some growers remove all the leaves now, as winter begins. Others prefer to wait until they prune.
Small plants and fall cuttings need a warmer place that will allow them to continue to grow a little and have a head start on the spring season. A greenhouse, a shade house covered in plastic; a bench in the garage, in an enclosed back porch or in a spare bedroom are all possibilities. A florescent light gives off heat and light. Horticultural heat mats keep the soil warm. A fan keeps the air moving and shallow pans of water create humidity. A temperature of 45°F is needed to keep plants green; 55° is needed for active growth.
As you start the process of getting fuchsias ready for winter, take stock of which fuchsias did well this year. Get rid of the ones that just limped along, seldom bloomed or hosted every insect that flew by. Dont waste time and space on underachievers!