In early autumn in the Pacific Northwest, fuchsias are mostly still in full bloom. But as the weather cools, it becomes time to prepare your fuchsias for winter. Below are some helpful tips to see your fuchsias through the winter.
Fuchsias 101 – Winter Care for Fuchsias
By Jackie Laverne, PowellsWood Gardener & Consultant and Owner of Magellanica Gardens Nursery
With the cold weather come fallen leaves and bare trees and shrubs. Like other plants, fuchsias respond to cooler temperatures by dropping their leaves. In the Pacific Northwest, October is usually the time to prepare your fuchsias for winter. The following tips—for both hardy and non-hardy fuchsias—will help ensure your fuchsias are protected through the winter.
Winter care for fuchsias in the ground:
Hardy varieties of fuchsias can overwinter in the ground and require minimal care.
1. Clean up any dead leaves and debris from the ground so there is no place for disease or pests to hide through the winter.
2. Lay about 1 to 2 inches of fresh mulch around the plants for a little winter insurance. Do not cut the fuchsias back. Unlike fuchsias in containers, fuchsias in the ground need their stems for insulation and food through the winter.
3. No watering is necessary. Just clean up, mulch, and wait for the new growth in spring.
Winter care for fuchsias in containers:
Non-hardy varieties of fuchsias can survive through the winter with some special care.
1. Cut back the stems to the sides of the container, and cut to no shorter than 3 inches at the top.
2. Clean up all the debris from the soil, and remove the top one-inch of soil from the pot.
3. Take the plant out of the pot and check the root ball for pests. If there are pests, wash the plant and its roots in an insecticidal soap. Wash the container with bleach or a good antibacterial soap. Rinse the plant and the pot well.
4. Place the plant back in the pot, and add some fresh organic potting soil, to put naturally occurring nematodes and nutrients back into the soil. Do not fertilize, as fertilizer will burn the freshly exposed roots, and is not necessary through the winter months since we do not want to encourage new growth until spring.
5. Lightly water the plant to stabilize the roots and prevent them from drying out.
6. If possible, lay the pot on its side in your garage or wherever you will be storing the plant that will not freeze. (Laying the container on its side encourages growth of the root system.) Providing light for the plant is fine, but not necessary for the plant to survive through the winter. Also make sure there is good air circulation around the plant.
7. Water about once a month through the winter. Do not overwater your plants as this will promote root rot and insects.
8. After you water, rotate your pots one-quarter turn to encourage continued root growth.
With these steps, you can look forward to healthy new growth on your fuchsias come spring!
Do you have any special tips for caring for fuchsias through the winter?