With winter around the corner, this week’s question comes from Penny Rose in Hampshire:

‘I’ve moved house earlier this year and planted some fuchsias in the garden. I bought these from a local nursery and they are described as ‘hardy’. Can I leave them in the ground over winter and if so do I need to protect them in some way?’

Well, Penny, In the coldest parts of the UK you’ll have no option but to dig up your plants and put them in a conservatory or greenhouse. It’s also a good insurance policy to take cuttings (preferably in early autumn) to bring on new plants in case of a particularly severe frost or disease problems. In warmer areas you can leave plants in the ground but take steps to protect them by not cutting down the stems in Autumn, and by making some holes in the ground around each plant with a a border fork, to help water drain away- particularly important if you have heavy soil that retains water. Once this is done you should put a mulch of leaf mould, wood ashes or soil around the base of  the plant to protect it further. Some Fuchsia varieties are hardier than  others; the toughest are F. magellanica, F.’Riccartonii’ and F. ‘Mrs. Popple’ which can withstand temperatures down to between -5C and -15C.

So in somewhere like Hampshire, you’ll probably be OK  to leave your Fuchsias outside (but take the action suggested above). For me here in Norfolk, it’s a little more difficult to be sure, so I’ll leave some outside (in a pot in a warmish courtyard) and either bring others in or mulch my sandy loam soil (forming drainage holes isn’t as important).

Old School Gardener