Help! I got a Fuchsia!

dragon9206April 19, 2007


I just got a fuchsia from lowes, without having any idea what it was. I know, not too smart. But I just fell in love with it, and I couldnt leave without it. I think it is "Dark Eyes" from what I have seen on the web. Is there anyone who can give me instructions on how to care for this? It is in a hanging basket, I dont think it is a shrub variety. (if the shrub and hanging kind are different?) I live in Oklahoma, so I know that it may need to live inside here in a month or two if that is possible. Please help. I dont have the slightest clue on what to do with this beautiful plant. Thanks everyone!!


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Hello, Heather. Looks like Lowes is causing all sorts of trouble distributing Fuchsias in climates that are not suitable for them.

Dark Eyes is a double trailer. Trailing Fuchsias have been bred for weak stems, so that they flow down the sides of a hanging basket.

The problem with hanging basket Fuchsias in severe climates (these things are mostly from tropical cloudforest--the land of "eternal spring") is that they are growing very exposed that way.

They tolerate quite cool weather, but are vulnerable to hard freezes. How are night-time temps doing now? If it's too cold you can try leaving it in a bright, unheated location above freezing, such as in a garage or coldframe.

Unfortunately their tolerance for heat and especially DRY HEAT is low. They are fairly shade-tolerant and will blossom in bright, open shade (open to the sky), or dappled sun, or sun for a few hours a day and shade the rest--something like that. Morning sun, which is cooler, is better than afternoon sun, which is hotter.

Do you know how to harden off plants? You expose them gradually more and more to the conditions they will be in when they are finally outside for good. It probably has soft growth from having been grown in a greenhouse. Too much exposure to sun, air currents, low humidity, etc, will shock it.

Oklahoma's summers are warmish and dryish for Fuchsias. It will probably need daily watering in hot and/or dry weather. Keep it more shaded during such times.

One more warning: Fuchsias are not as vulnerable to disease as most southern hemisphere plants (the ancestors of your type are from South America, although there are also Fuchsias in Mexico and the Caribbean), BUT they will be somewhat susceptible to fungal attack during HOT, HUMID weather. Phytophthora is particularly deadly to southern hemisphere plants. It strikes FAST and the symptom is that the plant collapses suddenly. You might think that it's wilting from lack of water but no amount of water will save it (in fact that makes it worse).

For what it's worth try watering in the morning so that the leaves are dry before evening. If you have other plants that are susceptible to fungal disease you might try a product called "RootShield", which consists of live Trichoderma spores. It is a fungus which is harmless to plants and might be competative to pathogenic fungii. Another product is "Serenade", which contains a live bacterium which attacks fungii. You use them before disease strikes. Their effectiveness is controversial but farmers have been using them. For that matter, I'm using them too (and so is the local arboretum) out of desperation. In my case it's not to protect Fuchsias, which aren't particularly vulnerable in my cooler climate, it's to protect Rhododendrons, tomatoes, Proteas, and other crops that are more vulnerable than Fuchsias to the many fungal diseases I have entrenched in my soil.

Fuchsias are heavy feeders. They especially like liquid fertilizers--read the label and apply at the recommended rate. They reward feedings typically with a wave of blossoms a week or two later. They are more-or-less everblooming and peak late summer, early autumn.

Oklahoma is too cold for them. If you want to save it you'll need to overwinter it someplace quite cool but protected from hard freezes.

There are shrub types that could be overwintered in the ground there, with a mulch. I can explain that if you're interested. They look similar to the one you have, but their stems are strong enough to support them upright.

Good luck and I hope it works out.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 1:26PM
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Thank you so much for your response. I got to thinking that I should have put what zone I'm in (6, off to the east) since most most of oklahoma is a different zone.

Right now I think we are out of freezes for this season, despite our last particularly late freeze just a week ago. our evening temps right now are in the 40-50 range, with daytime temps reaching to the 70-80's, so not too bad.

I am more worried about our heat. Oklahoma is notorious for going straight from hard winter, to 90 degrees in a weeks time. I have been told by a nursery worker that fucias just melt in the heat. We often get pretty humid, high temperatures around here. Last summer was pretty bad, several days in the tripple digits in a row. For overwintering, I was thinking that I could just bring it inside with a bunch of my other plants?

I have a covered pattio, where I have several plants growing, both in hanging pots, and regular ground pots. I have had a trailing begonia for several years that has done quite well there. Do you think that the fuchsia might do ok there? And I have read a couple places, that fuchsias tolerate heat better, if you can keep their roots cool. Is there anything to that? Right how the little guy is in a plastic pot, but I have some pots that would be cooler that I could transplant it to.

You said that there are fuchsias in Mexico and the Caribbean; does that mean that generally speaking cold is more of a hazzard to fuchsias that heat is? You are quite a bit farther south of me, so I'm not sure how humid it gets where you are at, but have you had luck getting your fuchsias to live through the summer?

I would like to know about overwintering fuchsias in the ground, with mulch, if you dont mind. If they can stand our summers (and aparently our winters), I would like to have one in my yard. Thank you so much for all your useful advice, I really apreciate it. Not so scared of my fuchsia now. :)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 6:52PM
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Also, what do you mean by 'heat' intolerant? Heat to one person is cool to another :) I also just bought a nice healthy hanging Fuschia from a local nursery, I live in southern Utah which has summer temps over 100 degrees. I will be hanging mine under a east facing patio, giving it 2-3 hours of direct morning sunlight. Do ya think I'm wasting my time trying to keep it alive through the summer? I can water it every morning but... the air is still hot!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 3:41AM
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For me, 'heat' tolerant means soemthing that can survive in my region. I live in North East Oklahoma, it is generally fairly humid, and when summer hits a daytime high of 85 is a welcome relief. Most of the summer temps are anywhere 90 to 95 for an average, and into the hundreds. (last year almost a week straight over 100 degrees, in pretty bad drought conditions)I dont know much about Utah's climate, I have never been. But I would guess that you are probably not as humid? I have seen some articles on the web about keeping their root ball as cool as possible, to help them survive the heat, but I have also seen articles that listed areas where they had been grown successfully, including Texas and Louisanna. I am beginning to think that fuchsias hate cold more than heat. Still researching, and learning though. I guess this will be a learning experience.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 2:07PM
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To answer both of your questions--well, heat IS relative... Too much is when your Fuchsia gives up and dies...

Let me explain what the risk is...

It's not quite so much heat PER SE. While not exactly prime Fuchsia country, a few people grow them in California's sizzling Central Valley. They will survive there with shade and irrigation. Bear in mind that nights are surprisingly cool there despite the daytime heat.

There are two problems. One is that the chemical processes that keep them alive are optimized for relatively cool temperatures. I don't know what those would exactly be, but probably between about 50-70F. As the temperature rises, they get more sluggish. At some point, especially with warm nights, their chemistry starts shutting down. Temperatures in the 80s are warmer than they actually like, in the 90s downright stressful, and in the 100s they are probably wilting. Dry heat is deadly to most Fuchsias--OK, let's talk about the ONE exception I am aware of: Fuchsia lycoides is native to near-desert in north-central Chile, just south of the Atacama desert!!! Funny thing with small leaves (to reduce transpiration). It is RARE in cultivation and most plants called that in the biz are NOT the real thing. It is very distinctive--if you had it, you'd know it! The rest of them turn crisp in dry heat as they do not have much defense against excessive dehydration.

What is likely to finish them off is disease. While their own chemistry is sluggish, diseases like Phytophthora thrive in warm, muggy weather. While their resistence to Phytophthora is higher than that of a lot of their South American compatriots, I have heard enough sad stories of them collapsing suddenly in the southeastern states to realize that it is a risk for them.

Dragon, is your trailing Begonia a tuberous kind? They like similar conditions. Yes, keeping the roots cool will help a lot. That's one reason I DON'T grow the hanging bastet types; when they are in the ground their roots are better protected. I would have to water them daily in hot weather (not easy for me to accomplish) but worse I would have to take them down and trench them in for the winter, because their roots will not survive hard freezes.

I'm actually not south of you, but quite a ways north! Seattle rates a zone 8b because although summers are relatively cool here, winters are not particularly cold because the mountains east of us shelter us from the big continental cold-front systems, while humid marine air makes almost constant cloud cover in the winter that keeps our winter nights from getting as cold as yours. It's a deceptive rating system because my climate doesn't really much resemble Houston's!

Here we have the kind of climate they really like: not too hot, not too cold! They are mostly from high elevations in the tropics, where the weather is "eternally springlike", or on the other hand they also exist in southern Chile at low elevations (the ubiquitous Fuchsia magellanica, which forms extensive thickets in the woods of southern Chile), where the climate is very similar to mine: mild summers, mildly chilly winters, and rainfall peaking late autumn, early winter.

They used to be popular here through about the 1950s. Every retired chap had to have one hanging next to his window, so that he and the grandkids could watch the hummingbirds feeding on them. There were hundreds of varieties available then. Then their popularity went into decline, and only about a dozen types are still grown, and not as ubiquitously as they used to be.

The most heat-tolerant of their kind that I am aware of is the beautiful Fuchsia triphylla from the Caribbean. It tolerates humid (not dry!) heat, and can also grow in dry heat with plenty of irrigation and some shade. Alas it is also VERY tender, freezing to death at about 32F/0C. For you I am afraid it would be an annual, unless you brought starts into a protected place for the winter. It has been bred and there are many lovely named varieties of it.

This is probably the one that you read about growing in Texas and Louisiana. Or possibly, among collectors, F. regia.

I have a few other Fuchsias that are just about as tender but perhaps from slightly higher elevations; I have no idea how heat-tolerant they are since it is not much of an issue for me. I have F. boliviensis, for example, that is also very tender, but seems to be OK in mildly cool weather and probably isn't as actually heat-loving as F. triphylla. I can sort of get it to overwinter by planting it deep and mulching it, but I lose the whole top at the first significant frost.

I have a beautiful Fuchsia--one of my wife's favorites, called Fuchsia xspeciosa, which is believed to be a hybrid but I don't know of what. Whatever it is, it LOOKS tropical but is strangely root-hardy without much intervention on my part. It is not a heavy bloomer, but its large, slightly fuzzy leaves are attractively blushed with sort of a rosy color. Whereas most Fuchsias are non-descript when not in bloom, this one is always rather attractive.

Oh, I have one more that might be interesting to you two: Fuchsia campos-portoi is a native of southern Brazil, where it occurs on hills at some elevation. I don't know how hight, but I was under the impression that Brazil's mountains aren't very impressive. Anyway, it is about as coldhardy as Fuchsia magellanica, meaning you could overwinter it with a mulch, and reputedly it is more heat-tolerant than its more common Chilean cousin. I know for a fact that it is fairly sun-tolerant as Fuchsias go--reputedly it grows in the open.

Several of the Brazilian Fuchsias are cold-hardier than it would seem they need to be for the modern climate of southern Brazil (comparable to south Florida); they seem to have some vestigial coldhardiness from when the climate was colder, perhaps. Another of these, that I also have, is F. regia, a tall Fuchsia that likes to clamber into trees; it's not really a climber but it likes to grow onto something else to support it, as it does in habitat. It has a very typical small Fuchsia flower, and it sometimes goes cleanly deciduous. It is very coldhardy, despite coming from a fairly warm climate. Probably somewhat heat tolerant for its kind too.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:08PM
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I have about 20 hanging plants including; New Millenium, Dusky Rose, Marinka, Lena, Swingtime, Deep Purple (a favorite), Bonanza, Dollar Princess, Southgate, Bicentennial, Pink Marshmellow, and Quasar. Each is on a drip watering system and the get Miracle Grow liquid about once a week. I am getting yellow leaf and currly leaf all at once. Is it the time of year? To much water or fertilizer? Our temp stays about 70 by day and high 50s at night.

Do you have a favorite soil mixture? I have used sand (we have lots) and a rich potting soil. I fight the wind with them, but will have more protection next year. They get morning sun on the back patio up to about 10:30. Any suggestion are appreciated.

I have a couple more that came without tags, but are wonderful. I have kept them now going on their third year. One has miniture leaves with miniture Dollar Princess like flowers and the other has large dagger-like thin leaves with large flowers the color of Dollar Princess, but has a delicate more pronounced shaped flower.

Anyway, any suggestions are appreciated.

Oregon Boomer

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 1:44PM
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Oregon Bloomer, would you be able to post a picture of the disease? I am betting that AfterMidnight can ID it. She's got sharp eyes.

My Fuchsias have never given me pest trouble (knock on wood).

Your climate should be just about perfect for Fuchsias I think.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 9:54PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Oregon Bloomer, it is normal for a few of the older leaves to turn yellow and drop, possibly in your situation too much fertilizer is the problem, if I was to fertilize once a week it would be with a 1/4 strength solution and flush the excess salts once a month. In the spring I water with fish fertilizer to get them growing, later on I switch to 20 20 20. I seem to be stuck in this rut LOL.
If you could post some pictures of your unnamed Fuchsias you might get lucky, so many Fuchsias look alike but there are a couple of people on this forum that know what quite a few look like, at least we might be able to tell you what it isn't :o).


    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 2:38PM
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