Getting fuchsias through the winter well


With their unique flowers and numerous color combinations, fuchsias are among the most popular container and bedding plants. Here is how to successfully overwinter these frost-sensitive flowering shrubs.

With a few exceptions, the winters in temperate climates are too cold for fuchsias, so they must be overwintered frost-free. Whether in a tub or planted out in a bed, some preparation and care is required to ensure that the plants come through the cold well and delight again with their blooms next year.

Prepare fuchsias for the winter quarters

Plants kept in pots and tubs should remain outdoors as long as possible, because they lignify better there. However, since they hardly need any nutrients from the fall and the vegetation break is coming, the plants should not be fertilized from September. Before the first frost, you then bring the fuchsias into the winter quarters.

First of all, do not be afraid of a strong pruning. You should cut out the weak and kinked shoots and shorten the remaining ones by about a third. This is necessary because otherwise the plants will not form buds in the spring and will not bloom during the season. In addition, in the case of dark wintering, remove the remaining leaves and make sure that no dead plant remains are brought into the winter quarters, on which pests and fungal diseases such as fuchsia rust or gray mold can spread. So that existing eggs and larvae of aphids and other overwintering insect pests are rendered harmless, spray the plants from all sides with a biological preparation based on rapeseed oil.

Wintering fuchsias in winter gardens and greenhouses.

In principle, bright rooms are preferable to dark wintering quarters, because you can do without removing the leaves. If you have a winter garden or a greenhouse, the fuchsias should be placed there at temperatures of 3 to 8 °C / 37 to 46 °F. It does not necessarily have to be heated, as fuchsias can temporarily tolerate slightly sub-zero temperatures. Water the plants very sparingly in the cold winter quarters and refrain from giving fertilizer. When the days become a little brighter and warmer again from the end of January, the fuchsias can also be kept at 18 to 20 °C / 64 to 68°F. However, since the heat with a simultaneous lack of light leads to undesirable growth in length (etiolate), you should always ventilate the winter quarters well.

Dark wintering in cellars or garages

For dark winter quarters, you should cut back and defoliate your fuchsias. Especially in dark basements, the temperature should not be higher than 10 °C / 50 °F . Older cellars should be aired during frost-free weather periods to prevent fungal diseases. Water only enough so that the root ball does not dry out.

Wintering in the ground

The so-called “lodging in” – the somewhat more elaborate creation of winter quarters in the ground – is known only to a few amateur gardeners. However, it is a good alternative if you do not have suitable wintering space. For this purpose, the plants are first cut back vigorously, and then strip off all the remaining leaves.

The dimensions of the pit depend mainly on the number and size of the plants. It should be about 60 to 80 cm (24 to 32 in) deep and wide and long enough to comfortably accommodate the plants. You can then place the fuchsias pot to pot or root ball to root ball in it and cover it with a 5 to 10 centimeter (2 to 4 in) layer of leaf humus or straw. To the top, fill the pit with a layer of dry leaves about 10 centimeters thick. Then, cover the pit at ground level with sturdy boards and a tarp to prevent too much moisture from seeping in from above. Finally, on top of the tarp, pour the excavated soil to form a small mound.

If the soil is heavy and impermeable to water, you can also put the fuchsias above ground for the winter. To do this, simply lay the plants on the ground and cover them with a wooden box. In addition, this is covered with a pile of leaves, a tarp and finally with soil.

Wintering out fuchsias

Putting fuchsias outdoors should be done only in the spring after the last heavy frosts, provided that the plants have already sprouted. Temperatures near freezing, on the other hand, do no harm to cold-hibernated shrubs that are still in dormancy. Therefore, they are often put back on the terrace in April. It is important, especially for the plants that have already sprouted, a semi-shaded, somewhat sheltered place.

Winter protection for outdoor fuchsias

The so-called hardy fuchsias are species and varieties that are still very close to the wild forms. They overwinter like normal flowering shrubs outdoors sprout again in the spring. However, the winter hardiness of the various outdoor fuchsias is not sufficient in some regions. Here you need to help in the fall with a few winter protection measures. The shoots of hardy fuchsias should be cut back by a third after the first frost. Then lightly mound the soil around the plants and cover the soil with leaves, bark mulch, straw or fir branches.

Then, in early spring, remove the cover and cut back frostbitten parts of the plant. Freezing back shoots is not problematic, as fuchsias all bloom on new wood and will resprout all the more vigorously after pruning. Alternatively, you can underplant fuchsias with evergreen groundcovers such as ivy, lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor), or chickweed (Pachysandra terminalis). Their dense, wintergreen foliage will adequately protect the root ball from the cold. Further measures for winter protection are not necessary in this case.

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