Here in southern Sweden the very hardy varieties, as some Fuchsia Magellanica, will survive outdoors, but the majority needs protection in a frost-free environment. This short article describes the method I use to prepare my Fuchsias for the winter and the protection I give them.
The fuchsia plants need a cool and dark place. The temperatures should range from 4 up to 8 C. Basements and attached garages as well as frost protected garden storages will work well for this. The plant will lose its leaves and appear dead, but it’s not.The process starts by lifting the plants out of the pots. I shake the plant so that most of the soil around the root is gone. Then I cut weak stems, clean the plant from remaining leaves and I also shorten the stronger stems as well as parts of the root. However, this I will do more completely when it is spring. After this the fuchsias will be potted into a suitably sized container.
My experience of using the barrels, intended for rainwater in the summer, is very positive. When they have done their duty at the end of the summer, I empty them completely to prepare for their new mission during the winter.
Rainwater barrel with a volume of about 500 litre is used.
Here seen from the side.
The fuchsia placing seen from above.
I fill the barrel with plants by placing the root side out against the plastic material of the barrel (Fig. 1,2). For each layer of plants I put some moist, not wet, fresh soil and peat to cover the roots. I do this so that in the middle of the barrel there is a hole where air can circulate. There will not be much of circulation but the top of every plant can breathe. When the barrel is full, a lid is placed on the top but a small slot is open. In a barrel for 500 l water I was able to stow 80 plants. In this way I make room for more than 100 fuchsias, smaller and bigger, in a space of about two square meters.
So, when the plants are safely bedded into their new “pots” (Fig.1), the next step is to see to them perhaps once every month. The soil in the barrel should be kept moist so perhaps some water should be added. Be careful, however, it’s better with almost dry soil than wet. Check by using your long arm whether it is too wet deeper in the barrel. It has happened that no water at all was needed during the winter. Especially if the temperature is around five degrees, very little evaporation is expected.
At the end of March I try to prune each plant to achieve a shape that I prefer for the different types of Fuchsia, some grow upright and some trail, but the aim is to achieve a compact balanced structure for summer’s growth. I can always remove another piece later if the plant is looking unbalanced. Now I put my bare skeletons of plants in the greenhouse in big pots or balcony plant pots. I put them close together in moist soil, in light but not too much sun. Some of them already now show small buds, for other plants I have to wait for weeks before I can see that the fuchsia is alive.
It happens that a fuchsia dies. Perhaps it is most common this time of the year - April - due to too hot days or too wet soil.
When there are new small leaves on the branches a couple of weeks before the exposure to the outdoor environment the plants are put in their final pots. The potting mix should be one that is well drained.
Wintering fuchsias means that you will not see the beautiful fuchsia flowers all winter long more than in your photo album - it does absolutely mean that you can enjoy your fuchsia year after year and develop and multiply those that are becoming your favourites.