Fuchsias come in several varieties, and the type of fuchsia that you have will impact the type of care that it requires during the winter months. Some hardier types of fuchsia plants can survive outdoors if you live in an area that has mild winters, but most of these plants need to be moved indoors for the winter season in order to protect them from the freezing temperatures.
The three varieties of fuchsias include hardy, tender and hanging. Generally speaking, fuchsias survive best in the Pacific Northwest and thrive off rich, organic soil. They like to be fed every few weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, kept in a shaded area during the summer months and brought in for the winter season.
How exactly do you care for a fuchsia when the temperatures start to fall?
Step 1: Move the Fuchsia to an Indoor Pot
First, move your plant to its new indoor pot. You’ll find that simple five-inch pots should do the trick, especially as the fuchsia will shed its remaining flowers and leaves. Just be sure that you clean up the remaining flowers; although they may look beautiful today, they will eventually dry up and rot.
If your fuchsia is large and is planted in the ground outside, you won’t be able to bring it in and will need to prepare it for the winter instead. Do this by cutting back the fuchsia plant and then covering it with straw. This will help prevent freezing; this method is best used for the hardier varieties of fuchsia.
Step 2: Position the Fuchsia
Now that your fuchsia has been planted in its pot, you will want to position it in an optimal location in the home. Bright and cool locations are best, so aim for areas where the fuchsia will receive sunlight but can still stay cool. Even in the winter, the sun’s rays can be a lot for a plant to handle so you’ll want to avoid direct sunlight. Garages or basements with windows will serve as ideal locations, providing the temperature doesn’t go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You will notice that the flowers and leaves will fall off during the winter, leaving the plant almost (or entirely) bare.
Step 3: Prune the Fuchsia
When the leaves and flowers have fallen off, it’s time to prune the plant. Cut the stems back to approximately five or six inches above the soil line. Continue pruning until you have a tight, balanced framework. The plant will look rounded and bare. For the best results when the plant starts growing again in the Spring you’ll want your fuchsia to have a balanced look, so don’t be afraid to trim more to achieve this appearance.
If you’re wondering when you should prune the plant and move it indoors, there is no one “right” answer. This all depends on what climate you live in. For example, a light frost won’t kill your fuchsia for good, but is something to be wary of, since prolonged cold weather can damage the plant. Therefore, don’t take the risk if you’re worried about your fuchsia. Although many varieties can tolerate the weather in October and November, some won’t. If you’d like, you can move your fuchsia indoors one week and then prune it later as the weather gets colder.
Step 4: Maintain the Fuchsia
Since fuchsias are dormant in the winter, there isn’t much to be done. As long as you keep your plant in a cool place, it will survive the winter. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, however. Be sure to check on the fuchsia every week or two to make sure the plant has damp soil. If the soil is dry, water it and return the fuchsia to its location. The plant will not need to be fertilized during this time.
Step 5: Prepare the Fuchsia for Spring
Before you know it, the winter months will be over and it will be time to re-plant your fuchsia. Wait until the threat of frost has completely passed in your area. New growth will show up on your fuchsia while you are waiting for the right time, but you will want to remove all new growth before moving your plant outdoors. To accustom the fuchsia to outdoor temperatures, start by placing the plant outdoors on your porch and then position it in its normal location. Just before taking it outside, prune it back completely except for the hardy stems that you had left after your last pruning. These will be the base for your new fuchsia. When the stems have become strong, place your fuchsia in its warm weather spot. Water and feed your fuchsia on a regular basis, and you’ll see a lot of healthy new growth in no time!