Tag Archive: fuchsia


Relax, it's summer...picture by Merv French

Relax, it’s summer…picture by Merv French

August can be a bit of a ‘graveyard’ month – few things are looking good in the garden as the first flushes of growth on many plants have died or been pruned away and there’s not much (yet) to replace them. It can be one of the hottest, driest months in the UK, too, making watering essential – and this could be a problem if you’re on holiday and don’t have friends or neighbours (or an automatic watering system) to do it for you. So this month’s tips are mainly about harvesting, maintaining colour and interest, pruning and propagating new plants – and of course, watering!

1. Prune now for next year’s fruit and flowers

To encourage flowering or fruiting shoots, prune early flowering shrubs if not already done so and also trim back the new straggly stems of Wisteria to about 5 or 6 buds above the joint with the main stem – this will encourage energy to go into forming new flowering spurs. Do the same for fan or other trained fruit like plums, cherries a etc. Cut out the old fruiting stems of summer raspberries to encourage the new stems to grow and tie these in as you go to stop them rocking around too much. Sever, lift and pot up strawberry runners if you want to replace old plants or expand your strawberry bed. Trim back your lavender once it has finished flowering, to stop it growing leggy (but just the tops- don’t cut into old, woody stems).

2. Cut out the dead or diseased

Dead head and ‘dead leaf’ perennials and annuals to prolong flowering as long as possible and keep plants looking tidy. Cut back herbs (Chives, Chervil, Fennel, Marjoram etc.) to encourage a new flush of tasty leaves that you can harvest before the first frost. Dry or freeze your herbs to use in the kitchen later on or sow some in pots that you can bring inside later in the year.  Look out for symptoms of Clematis Wilt such as wilting leaves and black discolouration on the leaves and stems of your Clematis. Cut out any infected plant material and dispose of it in your household waste.

Clematis wilt

Clematis wilt

3. Water when necessary

Containers, hanging baskets and new plants in particular need a regular water and some will need to be fed too. Ideally use stored rainwater or ‘grey water’ (recycled from household washing, but only that without soap and detergents etc.). Keep ponds, bog gardens and water features topped up. Particularly thirsty plants include:

  • Phlox

  • Aster

  • Persicaria

  • Aconitum

  • Helenium

  • Monarda

4. Mulch

To conserve moisture in the soil around plants use a mulch of organic material. An easy option is grass clippings –  put these on a plastic sheet and leave for a day in the sunshine. Turn the pile of clippings and leave for another day, or until they have turned brown. Spread the mulch round each plant, but avoid covering the crown as you might encourage it to rot. As mulch attracts slugs avoid those plants that these pests enjoy – Hostas, Delphiniums etc. Check that any mulch applied earlier hasn’t decomposed and add more as needed. Ideally, spread a mid-season layer of compost or manure – this will act to conserve moisture and feed the plants too.

Harvest Sweet corn this month

Harvest Sweet corn this month

5. Harvest home

Pick vegetables such as Sweet Corn. Pinch out the top of tomato plants to concentrate the growth into the fruit that has already formed. Aim to leave 5 or 6 trusses of fruit per plant. If you’re going away ask a neighbour / friend to pick your flowers, salad and veg to prevent everything running to seed in your absence.

6. Last chance saloon 

In the early part of the month sow your last veg for autumn/ winter harvesting (e.g chard or spinach). You can also sow salad leaves under cover in warmer areas. And sow green manures in ground that is going to be left vacant for a few months so as to help maintain nutrient levels and to keep weeds down.

7. Think seeds

Gather seeds from plants you want to propagate in this way and store them/ seed heads in paper bags if it’s not yet ripe. And why not allow some self seeding in some areas? Mow wild flower meadows to allow seeds to spread for next year.

Divide Bearded irises to give the divisions time to establish

Divide Bearded irises to give the divisions time to establish

8. Divide to multiply 

If the weather and soil conditions allow, start dividing perennials, perhaps beginning with bearded Irises. Either replant the divisions in the garden or pot them up for later sales/swaps/gifts.

9. Cut to grow 

Take cuttings, an excellent way of increasing your woody and semi-woody plants like fuchsias and pelargoniums. Choose a healthy shoot and cut the top six inches, then remove all but the topmost leaves. For insurance, dip in a little rooting powder and place in moist compost. Keep them in a cold greenhouse from September and plant them in their positions next spring, when there is not much chance of heavy frost.

August is a good time for taking Fuchsia cuttings

August is a good time for taking Fuchsia cuttings

10. Enjoy and inspect

Spend a good amount of time in the garden enjoying it – asleep, with friends or just admiring what you and mother nature have created! And while you’re at it make notes / take photos of your borders etc. to identify any problem areas that need sorting out for next year; overcrowded groups of plants, gaps, areas lacking colour or interest, weak looking plants etc. And it’s also important to record good plant combinations you might want to repeat – or just take pictures of those good looking areas for the record.

Old School Gardener

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As flowers go over be sure to deadhead regularly where appropriate to encourage longer flowering on into the Autumn and generally prevent the garden from looking frazzled and messy.

Collect seed pods for those plants that you’re planning to re-seed, and those that you don’t want to reseed themselves.

Prune back your pleached fruit trees, leaving 3 or 4 leaves on each sideshoot.  If any of your other fruit trees need pruning, do this immediately after you have harvested.

Trim back your lavender once it has finished flowering, to stop it growing leggy.

Although weeds will be growing more slowly than in the spring, it’s an idea to continue to hoe the soil to keep them down. This should be done in warm, dry conditions to ensure any weed seedlings left on the surface dehydrate and die.

If you’re going away ask a neighbour / willing family member to pick your flowers, salad and veg to prevent everything running to seed in your absence.

Now is the time to look at your borders and note any gaps / congestion that you’ll want to rectify later in the season when everything has gone over, ahead of next year. And start your shopping list for Autumn bulbs.

And of course, at this time of year, watering is key. Keep on top of this daily, making sure you water in the morning or late afternoon-evening to prevent the heat evaporating all the water before it reaches the plant roots.

Grow Your Own

Flowers
Support your dahlias, lilies and gladioli with stakes and flower rings to ensure the weight of their beautiful flower doesn’t cause their stems to break.

Chrysanths will benefit from being pinched or sheared back, encouraging more growth and flowers.

Keep picking your cut flowers to encourage more blooms and a longer flowering season.

Towards the end of August you can start planning next year’s colour by sowing your hardy annuals.

Grow Your Own

Veg and Salad

Plant out your leeks and brassicas if you haven’t already, and you can also squeeze in a final sowing of spinach and chard in the first couple of weeks of August.

Sow salad leaves under cover, or out in the open if in warmer parts of the UK.


Herbs 
Sow Basil,  Marjoram, Borage, Chervil, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Parsley in pots outside, to make moving them indoors as easy as possible in the late autumn

Fruit
Transplant strawberry runners to a new position.

Ensure that your fruit crops aren’t pinched by the birds by covering with netting, ensuring the netting stands well clear of the fruit.

Harvesting Food – What you could be picking and eating this time next year, or – if you’re an old hand – already are 

– See more at: http://www.sarahraven.com/august-in-the-garden#sthash.xPIdXOO2.dpuf

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800px-Fuchsia_2008

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

Fuchsia-flowerFuchsia (named after the 16th century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs) are a genus of sub shrubs native to Central and South America and New Zealand. Whilst there are only around 100 species (organised into 12 sections) there are over 8,000 hybrids in cultivation!

Leonhart Fuchs

Leonhart Fuchs

Most are tender and deciduous but some are evergreen, especially in warmer areas. They like any reasonably moist soil and flower from midsummer to autumn.

The flowers are unique in form and handsome. They form in clusters of pendent tubes or are bell-shaped  with widely spread sepals, with a surrounding ‘skirt’ of petals – some varieties with the same colour as the tube, others different. The number of petals varies between 4 (in the single flower varieties) and 8 (in double-flowered). The Fuchsia Tryphylla group have very long, single flower tubes.

Fcuhsia 'Thalia'

Fuchsia ‘Thalia’

Fuchsia 'Black Beauty'

Fuchsia ‘Black Beauty’

In colder areas fuchsia need to be in the warmest part of the garden and even then frost may kill off a lot of their top growth during winter.  Fuchsias do not grow well under trees.  A few are grown for their attractive foliage and all carry berries after flowering. Fuchsias are popular garden plants and can live for years with minimal care. The British Fuchsia Society maintains a list of “hardy” fuchsias that can survive through British winters. In the United States, the Northwest Fuchsia Society maintains an extensive list of fuchsias that have proven hardy in the Pacific Northwest over at least three winters.  Some more vigorous varieties can be trained as hedges (F magellanica, F. magellanica ‘Riccartonii’) and do particularly well in coastal areas. There are three main types :

  • Half-hardy fuchsia: These need to be overwintered in frost-free conditions. Trailing types are ideal for hanging baskets (they need daily watering). Upright Fuchsias are a good choice for containers. In both cases, plants benefit from a balanced, liquid fertiliser in late summer
  • Hardy fuchsia: Plant the base of the stem 5cm below the soil surface and protect the crown in autumn with a mulch of compost, bark or straw. Cuttings can be taken in early autumn as an insurance against frost damage. Apply a dressing of general fertiliser in spring and again in summer
  • Standard fuchsia: These tend to be of the faster growing varieties and should always be brought under cover for winter as the main stem is prone to frost damage even if the variety is considered hardy. A balanced, liquid fertiliser used in summer encourages better blooms over a long flowering period
Fuchsia Hanging Basket

Fuchsia Hanging Basket

Fuchsia magellanica hedge

Fuchsia magellanica hedge

Fuchsias from these ‘sections’ have been shown to be especially hardy in the UK, Ireland and many other countries, including New Zealand and the Pacific N.W. of the United States:

  • Quelusia (F. magellanica and its variants, F. regia, etc.)

  • Encliandra (some encliandra hybrids flower continuously)

  • Skinnera (F. excorticata, F. perscandens)

  • Procumbentes (F. procumbens is suitable as a groundcover)

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae

Fuchsia magellanica var. ‘Molinae’

Fuchsia procumbens

Fuchsia procumbens

Fuchsia michoacanensis

Fuchsia michoacanensis

Fuchsia 'Wendy's Beauty'

Fuchsia ‘Wendy’s Beauty’

A number of species survive outdoors in agreeable mild temperate areas, though some may not always flower in the average British summer. Due to the mild, temperate climate created by the North Atlantic Current, Fuchsias grow abundantly in the West Cork region of Ireland. They are associated with the area and a local branding initiative uses the fuchsia flower as its logo. For similar reasons fuchsias grow abundantly in the Isles of Scilly, where they have even colonised wild areas. While F. magellanica is not wide spread in Scotland it has been found growing wild in sheltered areas, and can been seen growing from self set seedlings along the banks of a stream that runs through Cambo gardens in Fife. Even in somewhat colder regions, a number of the hardier species will often survive as herbaceous perennials, dying back and re – shooting from below ground in the spring.

Fuchsias may suffer from infestations of aphids such as Whitefly. Fuchsia Gall Mite is a new pest threatening to cause more problems, and it can also be difficult to gain good control of Fuchsia Rust and Red Spider Mite once they get hold.

Sources and further information:

RHS- growing Fuchsias

Find that Fuchsia

The British Fuchsia Society

Wikipedia

Hmm... not sure about this Fuchsia.....

Hmm… not sure about this Fuchsia…..

Old School Gardener

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