By Elizabeth and Crow Miller

"It's Our Garden" Growing Fuchsias Indoors And Out

Fuchsias, are tender shrubs that bloom bountifully throughout the summer but succumb to frost in the fall. After the first frost, I cover the flower box with an inch of soil, then mound straw over it.

In early spring, I carefully lift the straw here and there along the row checking the progress of the new life coming up from the roots. Then I careful replace it, leaving it until all danger of frost is over.

At that time I remove the straw, all but the partially decayed layer on 'the bottom. About June 1st, when the flower buds are heavy, I go down the row. scattering 2-inches of compost.

Here, at Spring Meadow we have a bright, unheated room where fuchsias live happily through the winter. Once a week t take the plants to the sink and wash all their leaves, front and back, and let it drain and dry there before I take them back to their place in the sun. To this weekly dunking, I attribute the fact that I've never found any sign of insect life on my indoor fuchsia.

Nothing is easier to propagate than a fuchsia. Just break off 3 or 4-inch of stem, take off the leaves that would be under the soil, and plant, in sand. I like to cover my cuttings with a plastic bag turned upside-down over it to keep the sand moist. Leave it in a bright place, but out of direct sunlight, and within 10 to 14-days you'll have little plants.

I use a potting mixture consisting of equal amounts of peat moss, perlite compost, and sand. You'll find, that these flowers like their soil quite acid.

Fuchsias are not bright-sun flowers, but neither do they like deep shade. I grow mine successfully in hanging baskets on my south porch where they have all the sun there is until about noon, and after that open shade for the rest of the day.

To my thinking, fuchsias and geraniums should grow together. Both like rich, porous soil, both grow luxuriantly throughout a long season, and get along with a minimum of fussing. Even colorwise they go together, for they both come in rich, bold shades and soft pastels. And, since both can be grown as potted plants, and usually are, you can change the pots around until you get the color combination that pleases you, then leave it for a summer of undemanding beauty.

At the end of the season I bring in my potted fuchsias, cut them back to 2 or 3-inches on each branch, and store them in a cool room. They don't need anything through the winter but to be dampened slightly from time to time, just enough to keep their wood from becoming brittle. Sometime in February I repot them in rich soil, water well, and put them where it's bright and cool.

They grow quickly and soon give me all the cuttings I need for my summer stock

For winter blooming it is a good idea to take your cuttings in late-July or August. When rooted I pot them firmly and set them back a little from the glass in a sunny window, for the August sun can be very bright. Now there is nothing left to do but to nip each branch until the plants assumes the proportions of a butterball.

As soon as your plants shows roots at the drainage hole, repot two sizes larger. If the place where it stands tends to become dry and hot, mist the plants every day with a sprayer.

Have you ever tried to make a fuchsia tree ? Fuchsias grow so quickly that you can have a nice one in short order. For these I use rooted cuttings, coaxing them along by changing them from one pot to another as their roots grow Tie the main stem to a stick about 4-feet tall, pinching off all the side branches. Don't remove the leaves along this main stem; your plants needs them for it's growth.

When you have your tree as tall as you like it, pinch the tip to induce branching. Then pinch these branches after they've grown a few inches. Soon you will have a nice bushy head that will cover itself with flowers.

I like to make two of these trees, putting them on either side of the walk for bright accents above the other flowers.

So, - would you have the plants that seeds to delight in being alive, grows like a teenagers, and blossoms all over itself ? Then, grow fuchsias ' You, the butterflies and the hummingbirds will all be delighted.

Copyright o 1996 / Crow Miller, Syndication. Growing Flower's / On-Line