Countless generations of children were tough on fuchsias. Little girls picked the brightly colored flowers with long hanging pistils and pretended they were ballerinas. Many kids (of both sexes) popped the round balls of the flower buds. The parents weren’t too happy…but, hey, it was summer.
Hanging fuchsia baskets represent summer to many of us. Whether decorating decks, front doors or patios, fuchsias’ bright color combinations beckon us outside. Therefore, flocking to the local garden center to choose this summer’s baskets became an annual pilgrimage. Once there, it’s decision time. The colors, sizes and shapes become more numerous and beautiful each year as new introductions become available. However, the continuous flowering display from spring until frost makes it completely worthwhile.
How can you possibly make a decision?
Growers describe fuchsias in terms of their sepal and petal colors. The four sepals extend outwardly as they open to expose the petals. The petals, or corolla, can be single, semi-double or double. The long pistils and shorter stamen extend downward, creating “ballerina legs.” The dazzling array of colors range from white to pink, red to purple. Two popular older varieties include:
‘Dark Eyes’ is an extremely popular fuchsia with red sepals and double purple corolla. It fills a basket as it grows 30″ wide and can trail with 2′ of beauty
‘Swingtime’ is another popular fuchsia with pink-red sepals, white flowers and hot-pink stamen, growing 1′ tall and trailing 2′. This variety is particularly accepting of warm summers.
Fuchsias have such unique beauty; it may be a surprise to learn how easy they are to grow. You can even plant your own basket to create a specific combination. Many garden centers sell 2″-4″ starts, perfect for your basket or pot. Here are three things to remember:
- Check the labels to see how large the plants will become to determine how many should be in your basket.
- Use potting soil formulated for containers
- Keep moist
To have the best basket on the block with more plentiful and longer lasting flowers, hang the basket in dappled shade and water/fertilize on a regular basis. Remove the dead flowers and pinch off any berries that may appear. (By the way, if you haven’t used toxins on the plants, both berries and flowers are edible.)
Enjoy your summer!