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Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Posted by tropical_thought San Francisco (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 26, 12 at 13:11

My old woody fuchsia, I got for free. I found it somewhere. It was not doing so well, it got leaf fungal and lost a lot of leaves, then we had two cold nights about 32 freezing, now it looks really bad. How do I know if it is dead or just resting or dormant? I was thinking of digging it up to move it into a pot in the house to see if that cheers it up, but on the other hand I am nervous about digging it up right now. Maybe that would do even more damage? I heard they are good for pots because they have small root systems. A local guy I talked to (whom I was swapping plants) with commented that he had a fuchsia like that and he considered it a pest. He cut it down to zero and it came back, so I think they can be hardly, but this one has only been in the same place for about a year and a half, so is not a fully established fuchsia. I could try cutting it back to zero if that would improve it. But, it has some diseased leaves left and I think it may be getting sun from those sickly leaves. It looks unsightly, so I would like to prune or move it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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It still has green wood, it must be alive

I cut it back, and I saw green when I cut the wood. I did not cut it way back, I left some leaves on. I still don't know if old wood fuchsias can go dormant. I just know I tried those fancy hybrid ones, but they died in the winter due to lack of hardwood. Some people dislike the woody look, but that is what keeps them alive in the winter. I assume you can only grow the hybrids without a green house in Hawaii or places like that.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

If yours is a Fuchsia magellanica or cultivar thereof it should be fine in SF. They are hardy even in south of the UK. But without knowing exactly which Fuchsia you have it's not possible to be certain. Don't cut any more off it until any risk of frost is past. Old dead twigs can help protect it and you don't want to encourage new growth if there's a chance it could get chilled again.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

I took a new photos today of the woody stem. Can you look at the photos and see if you think it is magellanica? It must be because it would not have lived this long, but it does grow fat in spite of the big size. I found it on March 04, 2010 in pot thrown away and it was almost dead. First I put in the shady side, but it did not like that. I moved it to the sunny side and took off. It lost most of the leaves due to blight. I did spray it, but by that time the damage was done and most of the leaves fell off as you can see.

Here is a link that might be useful: set of photos of the plant in question


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

No, it is not F magellanica. But it is clearly alive. I would leave it alone, possibly just giving it a bit of protection e.g some newspaper, cardboard or a bit of fabric if the forecast says it is going to get cold again. Don't cut it back any more until it has put on some growth in the spring. You'll just stress it more. BTW if you like it, they are one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

oh no, a cutting won't help me. I had another fuchsia, but it died due to failure to have wood, unless I want a house plant, which I don't, it won't do me any good to take a cutting. But, I like to change plants a lot so I am sure I can fill the space with something else. The problem is it can't make enough wood to survive winter (in just one season), so it's like annual here, unless it has a lot of wood.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

tropical_thought. I'm not sure what you are expecting of a fuchsia in winter. Your fuchsia is ALIVE. It IS surviving the winter. It has plenty of 'wood' and will leaf out in the spring. You can't expect it to look the same summer and winter. Just give it a little protection as necessary and it will be fine.

As for cuttings. They are so easy there is really no reason not to do them. Once it starts growing in the spring you could take a dozen cuttings and have 12 more good sized plants by next autumn. I don't really understand your reluctance to make free plants! I'm not suggesting them as substitutes for your old plant. You'd still have that as well.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

I don't have good luck with rooting cuttings. Last year this one had not lost all it's leaves. It was not the temperature much as the blight this year, that made it look like a huge unsightly stick. Once all the leaves got the blight, no amount of spraying made any difference.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Ye Gods, tropical, you're one awful pessimist. If it has any good growth, cut off a tip cutting ( about 3" from the tip) remove the lower leaves and stick it in a cup of water. 50/50 it will root in the water. Takes up to a month, however. Can be 80/20, but winter is not the best time to do this. At least that way you will have some insurance against late frost, however. I agree it's not the hardy species.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

I don't feel that bad about it. It was a free plant, but I think it is going to make it. I could buy a prettier colored one at any nursery in the spring. I am not sure I like it enough to make it into a cutting. I just liked it because of all the wood. We hardly ever go below 40 in the winter, but occasionally we have a freak day. This time it was two days. A cutting would not have time to make all the wood before next winter and would die in the next winter. I liked this one for the large woody trunks/stems.


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It is alive!

We had two warm days and it is putting on new leaves quickly.
So, they can lose all leaves and live. I thought it was dead from Dec until now, when it suddenly perked up.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Aha - vindicated! Look back at what I said on 31st January. I said it was alive and would put on growth in the spring. That was clearly visible from the photos you posted.

I would still suggest you have a go at cuttings some time. The are childishly easy to root and it is fun getting free plants.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

And I don't understand why you say it won't make wood by fall...I saved 2 in the refrigerator this winter. They started as cuttings last spring, spent the summer outside, and right before the first frost I brought them in, gradually withheld water, and then put them in a refrigerator in the garage. Took them out last week, watered them, and now they are growing great. Lots of Alaskans save their fuschias year to year. If we can do it with a short summer and a long winter, you can do it with a longer summer and shorter winter.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

yes, I could make cuttings and bring them inside, but that is too much work considering I have so much else to do in the garden. Potting up something is a lot of work. I want a plant that can stay in the garden year to year without dying so it will need a lot of wood.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Sorry, I wasn't clear. My point was that if it makes enough wood in a short summer to last the winter in a refrigerator, it should make enough wood in your summer to last your winter outside.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

You mean keep it in the house for one year in the winter until it grows enough wood. I guess that is possible, but I had one I liked quite a bit more, as it was more pretty, but that one died in the first winter. It did not seem to make much or any wood. I don't know how it takes to make wood or how much is enough wood, or if they all make wood in a equal amount. Maybe the fanny high bred was not predisposed to making a lot of wood? Maybe someone kept mine as a house plant before clucking it into the street? Maybe someone who does this can comment. I often walk a fine line. I can grow some tropical plant, but not all of them. I would love to grow some exotic gingers but I would need a green house, but my climate is warmer then the east bay, marin or san jose.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

I take fuchsia cuttings all the time. If I decide to get a new variety I buy a single plant and by the end of the summer I can have lots. In my climate I grow them in large pots which I hide up against the house under lots of leaves and they break into new growth the next spring. The question of 'making lots of wood' is not really relevant. However much wood is made it will be enough. Yours has already proved to be hardy enough to overwinter outside so any cuttings from it would be too. Don't keep them in the house at all - it's not necessary where you live. If you had just hung an old sheet or something over the one you had that died it would probably be alive now. If frost is predicted give a little protection. Otherwise leave it alone.

Cuttings are child's play. Pinch off the end of a non flowering shoot about two inches long with a few leaves. Put it into some seed or cutting mix and keep moist but not wet. That's it. It will root. I root almost all the pieces I remove when pinching out the plants to make them bushier. Once rooted just plant them where you want them and forget about them. In the winter watch the forecast and protect only if necessary ie if it's going to dip below about 33f.

mytime - I'm curious you put yours in the fridge. Is that because the fridge is actually warmer than outside? I suppose it's around 5c which is a good temp for a fuchsia in winter.


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Yes, Flora, the fridge is definitely warmer...we get down to -20C or colder. Today it got up to 0C for the first time in a week. The snow is about 4 ft. deep in the yard. Definitely not fuschia survival weather! This is the first time I've had a refrigerator dedicated to plants. My dahlias, fuschias and geraniums went in to it in October and came out a few weeks ago...now I have to baby them in the house for about 6 more weeks, then 4 weeks in the greenhouse until I can put them outside.

Tropical_thought, Flora said what I came back today to tell you...in your climate you shouldn't need to have them inside...inside is actually too warm and dry for them. But in rereading your posts, I'm thinking that maybe you don't like fuschias enough to take a chance and try it again. Oh, the heresy!!!!


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RE: Is this fuchsia winter dormant or dead?

Mytime - I'd love to see Alaska. But I don't think I'm mentally robust enough to live there! We close the schools if there's four INCHES of snow ;-)


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Still alive

Mytime the plant is alive so I don't have to bother with a cutting. I really do like it because it has a lot of wood, however, the color leaves I bit to be desired. I used to have this one I liked better but it died. It did not have enough wood to live in the winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: I like this one much better


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