Bush Fuchsias

 A bush is defined as a plant with many branches, none of which trail. This is the commonest and easiest way of growing fuchsias, and this is the form in which they grow in nature. When planted on the garden, as is Leverkusen (above), the fuchsia will form a neat bush, but when in a pot it needs some control by means of regular pinching out the growing tip in order to shape the plant.

A bush should grow evenly so that it becomes quite symmetrical. Preferably, this is achieved by regular pinching of the entire plant at the same time, resulting in a plant that is covered with many flowers. If it is fed and watered regularly, the plant will flower for many months.

Cultivars suitable for a bush (or most shapes actually) have short internodes, with laterals in sets of three or even with whorls of four, and are self branching, which means one obtains a much fuller growth than varieties that don’t have these growing habits.

Start the rooted cutting in a 5cm or 7,5cm pot and as it develops, re-pot into the next larger size pot. Do not over-pot, for if given extra growing space the roots will feed the top growth, causing the internodes of the plant to lengthen and possibly spoil the close compactness and shape of the bush. From the time the plant is in a 12.5cm pot, start feeding every week or ten days with a fertiliser in half strength solution. Because more or less compactness is suggested, the food product used should not be of high nitrogen content. A more balanced fertiliser will help control fast lateral growth that often helps shorten the space between the nodes.

Fuchsias need early morning sun and plenty of light. If the pot is rotated a half turn each week it will encourage roundness of form rather than a one-sided bush. As the bush approaches the hoped for size and shape it is best kept in a container that is in proportion to the overall size of the plant and again it is wise to restrain excessive growth by not over potting.

Water your plant the night before you feed, as you should never fertilise a dry plant. If the soil on top of the pot become hard, loosen it gently so water will penetrate through; fuchsia must have good drainage.

It should take about 8 weeks after you stop pinching to bring the plant into full bloom, but this may be accomplished in 6 weeks if it grows in a warm area.

If you intend to exhibit your plant, the foliage and flowers must be free of pests and disease. The container must be clean and free of lime deposits. Pick off all spent blooms, bad leaves, seed berries and remove unnecessary stakes and ties. No branch, leaf or flower should touch the soil or extend below the top of the container. See that the plant is correctly labelled and it is ready for the show.