Fuchsia plants can often look after themselves quite well without any form of pruning. They are naturally floriferous and are rarely without flowers in the summer months. However, to get the best shape – and even more flowers than normal – a regular pruning (snipping) regime is beneficial in younger plants. Basically, the more shoots or branches your Fuchsia has, the more flowers it will be able to produce.
Firstly, determine what type of Fuchsia you have. This is not always easy with very young plants bought from the garden centre or nursery because a bush and trailing Fuchsia will look very similar with just a few shoots and leaves. Standard Fuchsias of course are very recognisable! Hopefully you can trust the plant label, which should tell you if it is a trailing, bush or hardy fuchsia.
Older flowering plants of Fuchsias will be seen to be either bush or trailing by their habit of growth. Some are borderline plants, between bush and trailing.
Hardy type Fuchsias are normally pruned on a once-off basis right at the start of the growing season – preferably after the hardest of frosts have finished and once the new grow just starts to appear after the winter die-back.
Very little by way of finesse or horticultural expertise is required. Simply cut the bush right back hard – near to ground level – or to a basic frame of any Fuchsia that you might have been training for some reason. They are normally grown as bushy shrubs.
New shoots will soon start to emerge at the base, and are hardy enough to withstand a few late frosts – maybe with as little foliage browning. No need to worry – it will grow well as soon as normal gardening season starts. Hardy by name and description; hardy by nature.
That’s it. I have cut back older Fuchsias with a pair of loppers, or pruners, and also rendered a younger shrub to the ground with a hedge trimmer. Same result; it soon starts to grow and retain the original height – but with fresher, more floriferous foliage. Clear up the old branch prunings. Job done!
If your new Fuchsia is just a new central stem with few if any side shoots – maybe even as a Fuchsia cutting that you have produced – prune the stem just above the third or fourth lave joint, but leave all the leaves on the plant below that cut. It will soon send out a pair of side shoots. This is the start of producing your busy, full of flowers, plant.
Now we enter the progressive stage of building a bushy fuchsia plant. Allow the two side shoots to grow to three or four pairs of leaves, then snip them off just above the second leaf joint. Side shoots will emerge from the joint below your cut, and these should be allowed to grow four or five pairs of leaves – with possibly a few flower buds showing at the end tip. No matter – cut them off this time at slightly above the third pair of leaves, then repeat the operation but at the fourth pair of leaves next set of shoots.
By now you will have the start of a bushy, compact Fuchsia plant that will have a good shape and will be raring to give you a good display of flowers. Many stems equals many flowers. If you are not too impatient to start seeing flowers, repeat the pruning as above, but at five pairs of leaves.
If you want your Fuchsia to be perfection for a particular event – wedding, garden party, or flower show, stop all pruning at around 6 to 8 weeks before the event. This will bring the plant into flower for the desired date.
Routine pruning thereafter, is simply removing faded flowers before they are allowed to set their fruits – unless you want to make jam! The setting of seeds and fruits really do take a lot of energy out of the plant – at the expense of new growth and flowers.
You can adjust this pruning regime to give you the type of plant shape you want – bush, pyramid or tower!
The same basic principles as above, but taking into account the framework of branches you already have. Start by side-shooting to retain or alter shape, then proceed shortening all the new shoots to around three or four pairs of leaves.
Trailing Fuchsias should also be pruned regularly – as per the instructions for the bush fuchsias. Do not be in a hurry to see just a few flowers at the end of two or three branches hanging over the edge of your basket. Trim the ends of all shoots to build a good structure of branches. The will soon start to droop or trail, providing you with many more flowers than would be the case with just a few long stems.
If planted in hanging basket, ensure regular feeding – and watering – for the food reserves in a confined hanging basket are much less that would be the case in a large pot or in the garden soil.
New or older standard fuchsias bought out of winter dormancy should be treated as above, but of course snipping the shoots at the head of the stem. For the early part of the growing season, you can leave any foliage that appears on the main stem – and even new side shoots, for all these will help the plant to generate energy whilst growing. In this case it is a long distance for the food to travel from roots up to the head. However, don’t allow any side shoots to continue once the head is starting to grow well and responding to your initial formation pruning.
Established hedges of Fuchsias are normally a dense mass of old twigs and branches. Traditional hedge trimming is all that is required with maybe a slightly harder trim for the first spring cut. Thereafter, lightly prune as required to ensure a good supply of new growth – and flowers.