BFS Snowfire
By Peter and Nancy Darnley. Kidderminster.

Winter care will have to be thought of some time in August, but what you do will be dependent on what facilities you have to store them.

The simplest thing is to do nothing and leave your fuchsias to flower as long as possible and when they finish, (it could easily be Christmas by then) throw all but the hardies away. This also enables you to go away for the winter without any worries over your fuchsias. Come the spring you can then obtain new ones. This can often be cheaper than trying to keep them all with the cost of heating, etc. My local nursery sells its fuchsias for 85p in a 10cm pot with a discount if you buy a tray of 15 and these all ready to go straight into a 5 or 6 inch pots.

Most growers however wish to keep them, as second year plants can often give you an even better display as they are bigger to start with. In a perfect world you will have a heated greenhouse to keep them in, but many do not. So we will come back to this later.

For those of you who have no storage facilities or wish to give minimum care over the winter we would recommend you consider the burial method. This method is intended for plants in pots, so if they are growing in the open soil it will be necessary to dig them up and get them into a suitable pot sometime in late August. At about this time you will need to dig a hole or trench in the garden to store your fuchsias in. This will need to be at least 18 inches deep. If you do it this early it will enable the soil and the hole to dry out and for you to cheek it does not fill full of water, which can occur if you have a high water table in your garden. If it fills with water then this method will not work for you. About mid September give your fuchsias in pots a trim removing any thin and weak growth and any branches that spoil the shape. Then remove all the leaves on the plant so only branches remain. Any leaves left on will possibly cause rot to set in and can be fatal to the plants. Allow the plants to stand in this condition for a few days then water all the pots well and leave them to drain. After this place your fuchsias laid on their side in the hole. The plants can safely lie on top of each other so that you get the maximum number in the smallest space. Standards will need a little care so that the pots of lower fuchsias do not damage the heads of others. Cover all the plants with dry material, straw or dried bracken are ideal, so about a 6 inch layer is created. Place a cane in two opposite corners of the hole (so you can find it later) then return all the dried soil over the covered fuchsias. They will now be safe and sound here all through the winter, and will only require to be dug up in the spring.

If you have a greenhouse with soil floors then the hole could be dug under your staging. A similar approach can be taken with baskets but these need a more severe pruning cutting the plants in baskets back to about 6 inches above the compost level in the basket.

You can now face the winter with little to worry about.

BFS Haute Cuisine