Chris and family (Roger and Don), have run their Weald View Gardens fuchsia nursery for over 30 years. (www.wealdviewgardens.com.au)
Chris began her talk by assuring our members that Fuchsias were much more robust than many believed, and that correct handling in our hot dry summer climate enabled them to be successfully grown in South Australia.
In particular, she spoke of the correct watering procedure, and demonstrated how to prune the plants to enable them to better survive and flower well in our climate.
It is essential that Fuchsias not be allowed to dry out. Baskets tend to dry out quickly, so on hot windy days, water in the morning and place the basket in a cool position. If there are several days of hot weather, leave the baskets on the ground and hang up when the temperature cools down. Water baskets and pots before they dry out, this may be twice daily in very hot conditions, especially when the fuchsia is in full flower. Pruning the flowering portion of the fuchsia before the hottest weather will drastically reduce its water needs during this period.
Garden plants, once established in the ground will make use of ground water and need less additional water. Deep watering, more frequently in the summer, is sufficient.
A hard prune should always be done in July or August to maintain healthy growth. Take the plant back to just above the hard wood and remove straggly and weak growth. This is also the time to re-pot if the plant has outgrown its container. Pot into a larger container or root prune and re-pot into the same container, replenishing the soil. A light trim prune in January, or before the hottest weather, is ideal in areas with hot dry summers. The advantage of this trim is to have a smaller plant without flowers through the
hottest months. Trim back behind the flowers to healthy leaves and shoots, making sure there are still plenty of leaves on the plant. The plant will only be out of flower for 4-6 weeks and will then flower through the autumn and winter. In frost prone areas, be careful not to prune during the heaviest frost period as new shoots are tender and will burn. If plants are affected by frost, wait until the frosts are over before doing any pruning.
Pruning is also the time to fertilise as pruning encourages new growth and feeding is important for healthy plants.