Top of the Crops - Fuchsia

Growing Fuchsia in a Polytunnel

Fuchsias are attractive flowering plants that can enhance your polytunnel and/or garden. Tender varieties will obviously appreciate the extra warmth and protection offered by a polytunnel, while hardy types can also do well in a polytunnel, though may need some shade to protect them a little during the midsummer. Though fuchsias are usually grown for their attractive, pendulous flowers, all fuchsias also have edible fruit, though only some varieties have fruit with a pleasant taste. All fuchsia's will appreciate the protection from a cold, drying wind that a polytunnel can provide.

Sowing and Growing Requirements for Fuchsia

When it comes to growing fuchsia, most people will choose to grow them from young plants purchased from a plant nursery or garden centre. Propagation is also usually through softwood cuttings in spring/ early summer, semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or hardwood cuttings in late autumn before severe frosts set in.

Fuchsia's like a fertile soil that is moist but well-drained. They can be grown in containers where local soil conditions are not ideal. Most fuchsia's will do best if they have some shade during the hottest part of the day. Above and beyond these basic requirements, it is important to recognise which sort of fuchsia you are growing. There are half-hardy, hardy and standard fuchsias and each type has its own different requirements.

Half-hardy fuchsia should be overwintered in frost free conditions. The trailing types are perfect for hanging baskets, which can help you make the most of the space in your polytunnel, though bear in mind that they will need to be watered assiduously. Upright fuchsias are a good choice for growing in containers.

Hardy fuchsias should be planted with the base of the stem below the soil surface to a depth of around 5cm. The crowds of these varieties can be protected in the autumn with an organic mulch of compost, bark, straw or similar and dressed with a general purpose organic fertiliser in the spring and again in the summer.

Standard fuchsia should always be brought under cover in winter as the main stem can be prone to frost damage even when it is from a so-called hardy variety. A balanced, organic feed in summer will encourage a standard fuchsia to produce better blooms over a longer period.

Harvesting Fuchsia

Usually, fuchsia is simply there in the garden to be admired by human and other beneficial inhabitants of a garden. However, some varieties do have tasty fruits and since all are edible, it may be worth while sampling any you come across to see if they have potential as an edible crop. The fruit of the Fuchsia splendens are said to be the most worthwhile. They have a lemony, peppery tang and are best used for making jams and other preserves.

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