Few other plants give such a long display of colour in the cool greenhouse as the easily grown. Many lovely varieties are available, including numerous kinds with a pendulous habit which are excellent for growing in hanging baskets. Some vigorous, upright varieties, such as Rose of Castille and Duchess of Albany, can be treated as permanent greenhouse climbers if planted in a border. There are also some interesting species, such as corymbiflora with clusters of deep red and F. fulgens with slender reddish flowers.
Cuttings taken in July to September will provide plants for flowering the following summer. A temperature of 16 to 18°C. (60 to 65°F.) is needed to root the cuttings. Young sideshoots, a few inches long, are removed and trimmed below a joint with a sharp knife. Any flowers or buds are removed, also some of the lower leaves. Dipping the cuttings in hormone rooting powder aids rooting.
A suitable compost consists of equal parts of moist granulated peat and coarse sand or. Alternatively, 1 part medium loam. 2 parts moist peat and 3 parts coarse sand. Insert the cuttings round the edge of a 3-in pot with the aid of a dibber. Label immediately and give the cuttings a good watering before putting the pots in a propagating frame in a warm, shaded part of the greenhouse. Wipe condensation from the underside of the glass covering each day to prevent drips spoiling the foliage.
The rooted cuttings are first put in 3-in. pots of John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost and grown in a warm, light part of the greenhouse. The young plants must be kept growing slowly through the winter and not be given a partial rest like mature plants. When they have filled their pots with roots, pot on into 5- or 6-in. pots of John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost.
To obtain plants with the desired bushy habit, take out the tips of the main stems when they are about 6 in. tall. Sideshoots will form which are themselves pinched back when 6 in. long to build up a good plant. Remove any early flower buds which form, so that the plants make plenty of growth before the main flowering period.
When the plants are in their final pots, feed weekly with liquid or soluble fertiliser. This keeps the plants flowering well into autumn.
Water freely in summer when thedries out, and provide shade from strong sunshine. the floor and staging regularly to create the desired humid conditions.
Mature fuchsias are given a partial rest in winter. Very little water should be given but the soil must not be allowed to dry out completely. A dry shed or garage makes a good storage place with straw or bracken protecting the stem from possible frost damage.
In early spring side branches made in the previous year are cut back to within two or three joints of their base. Otherwise there will be a tangled mass of growth and poor quality flowers.
After, some of the old soil is teased out from among the roots and the plants are repotted in the same size pots, firming the new compost with a rammer. In a warm greenhouse and with light overhead sprays, new shoots soon develop. Afterwards they are treated exactly as for young plants, new growth being stopped to encourage a bushy habit, and feeding being carried out regularly each week.
To train standards it is best to start with young plants. These are not stopped until they reach the desired height. The main stem is tied to a thin cane and the plant moved first to a 5-in. and then a 6-in. pot, using John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost for the final potting. Longer canes will be needed as the stems lengthen.
If a main stem of 3 ft. is required, let it grow to 3-½ ft. before taking out the tip. This induces strong sideshoots to form at the top of the plant and these in turn are stopped to produce a good ‘head’. Side-shoots on the main stem are left until the head has developed as these will help the growth of the plant but they should be stopped at the first pair of leaves. When the head has formed, they can be removed or left, whichever is preferred.
After resting, standards are treated exactly as bush plants. Any unwanted shoots on the main stem should be rubbed out and the stakes should be checked and replaced where necessary.
Pests can do a lot of damage. Greenfly congregate on the underside of the leaves and can be controlled with a BHC or malathion spray. Red spider mites cause mottling of the foliage which, in bad cases, will wither and drop. This pest increases rapidly in hot dry conditions and damping down and syringing is the antidote, especially in hot weather. Spray with malathion or fumigate with azobenzene. Capsid bugs, which puncture and distort the leaves, can be controlled with BHC in spray or smoke form.