Winter Over Fuchsias DIY

 

The blooming fuchsia pictures in this post are from my garden, July 2012.  Enjoy!

 

Our weather continues on wet and mild.  Today we had a break from the rain, and the sun streamed in, so I took the opportunity to go outside and try something new to me, which is to get my fuchsias ready to winter over in the garage.  (If you are interested in this topic of wintering over plants, earlier this month I showed you how to pot up paperwhite bulbs and how to pot up pelargonium.)  I like to do this in order to save money on plants next spring–if all goes well, I won’t have to buy nearly as many fuchsias to fill my hanging baskets and containers.  However, this is the first time that I’ve tried wintering over fuchsias, so I will be on a steep learning curve to see what works and what doesn’t.

 

While hardy fuchsias will do just fine outdoors in the garden and come back next year, their tender relatives will not, at least not here in my zone 8 Pacific Northwest garden.  In order to winter them over, you have to dig them up, plant them in a container, and water them in.  This part of the process is exactly the same as the one I used to pot up pelargonium, and I refer you to that post for the step-by-step tutorial.

 

Today I used one-gallon sized pots for the larger fuchsias and 4-inch pots for the smaller ones, and these do not have to be decorative because these plants will not bloom at all over the winter.  The plain old black plastic ones from the gardening center are perfect for this project.

 

 

This year, I had fuchsias in my hanging baskets, and so I basically emptied all the baskets and removed the plants that I want to winter over, in this case, a pelargonium also commonly known as a geranium, the fuchsia, and a rogue lobelia in my favorite variety called ‘Cambridge Blue.’  I decided to try wintering them all over.  I know that the lobelia is an annual, but it’s still blooming away, so I’m going to see how long it goes!

 

 

I took the basket and cleared away as much of the dead plants as I could, moved the chains to the side and out of the way, and then carefully turned the basket upside down.  The plants and dirt come out in one big ball, and I pulled the basket away from it, and then put that ball of plants and roots right-side up.

 

 

I use my little hand saw with the serrated edge to cut around the plants to separate it from all the other dead roots, and then I shake it to release anything that isn’t part of the plant.  Then it’s easy at this point to see what you have to work with.  Here you will see the pelargonium on the left, the fuchsia in the center and lobelia on the right:

 

 

You can see how big the actual root ball is.  If it’s small, it can go into a 4-inch pot.  Larger specimens go into a one-gallon pot.  The process is just like for the pelargonium–fill the pot 2/3 full of potting soil, water it to let it settle, add more soil if needed, then put the plant roots in the pot and backfill with more potting soil, working it in with your fingers so there are no empty holes in the pot and that all the roots are completely covered.  If the roots are very long, you can trim them back with hand pruners by 1/3, but I didn’t trim the top of the plant back at all at this point.  From some reading I did, it’s advised to leave the top as is at this point, and then trim it back in the early spring when you are ready to bring it out of dormancy.

 

In this photo, the pelargonium/geranium is on the left, the fuchsia in the center and the lobelia on the right.

 

All the dead roots and plants, as well as the old potting soil, can go into your compost pile as long as they are pest and disease-free.

 

I used my homemade plant soap to make sure no pests were coming indoors with the plants.  It’s made from:

 

  • one capful Murphy’s Oil Soap (used for cleaning wood furniture)
  • 1 quart water

Place this in a spray bottle and shake it up well to mix, and then spray your plant, paying attention to the under parts of the leaves and the stems.

Now this is the part where I am experimenting a bit.  I read some instructions that said you can winter them over in the garage with no light, while another source said to put them in a cool, light room.  I am going with the dark garage just to see what happens, because I already have a tableful of plants under lights and am running out of room!  According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service yard and garden brief, you should taper off watering the plants, just giving them a bit of water so they don’t die but not tons of water–about the equivalent of watering them once every 2-3 weeks.  You want to make sure they are somewhere that is not freezing and also not too warm–45-55 degrees F is recommended as ideal for them over the winter, and I think our attached garage should be just about right for this.  They will lose their leaves and looks kind of dead, but they are not.

 

 

In mid-March you can begin to bring them out of dormancy.  Tender fuchsias bloom on new wood, so what this means is that you want to prune them in March so that they put out lots of new growth.  You can cut most of the trailing ones back pretty hard to get rid of all the trailing stems, and the upright ones to half of their height.  After pruning, you can bring them into the light and into a warmer room, and they should start to grow again.  You can water them regularly and use a fertilizer for blooming plants now, but mixed at half strength.  After your last frost date, your plants will be ready to go into your spring and summer containers and bloom well for you.

 

**ADDENDUM:  After hearing from a couple of local expert gardeners, I am coming to the conclusion that you need to have lights on the plants in the garage in order to winter them over successfully.  One gardener said that she winters her over in a garage that has windows, and this provides the necessary light for her plants.  I am going to try adding a light over my fuchsias in the garage and see how they do.

 

 

The garden has been so cooperative this fall, but I suspect this will be my last actual outdoor gardening post for a while.  I have other ideas up my sleeve, so stay tuned!

 

Do you winter over your tender fuchsias, and if so, do you keep them in light or dark conditions?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments, so stop by for a visit!

 

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to Minerva’s Garden via email or RSS, Like us on Facebook, and Follow us on Twitter, and connect with us on You TubePinterest and Google +.  You can also follow us on Linky!

 

Thank you so much for your friendship and support–I appreciate it!

Till next time, 

I’m participating at:

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm

Newbie Party at Debbiedoos

Be Inspired at Elizabeth and Co.

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits at Stone Gable

Time Travel Thursday at Brambleberry Cottage

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Inspiration Friday At The Picket Fence

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Catch As Catch Can at My Repurposed Life

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Home Stories A2Z

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special
UndertheTableandDreaming

Print Friendly

About AthenaMG

Athena McElrath is a Master Gardener with a love for gardening, decorating and cooking inexpensively. She enjoys working out in her urban garden in Southwest Washington State, watching the hummingbirds and other birds and insects, eating the wonderful vegetables, fruits and herbs that she produces from her garden, and just having a great time hanging out under the pergola with her family and friends (that is, whenever it stops raining long enough).
hanging baskets, Pelargonium, Tender Fuchsias, Winter Over Fuchsias DIY, , , , , , Permalink

16 Responses to Winter Over Fuchsias DIY

  1. Alycia Nichols says:

    Oh, what we would do for a bit of that rain you’ve been having!!! Just enough to wet our beaks! It has been SO dry here!!! Don’t get me wrong….We don’t want it in the form of snow now that it’s almost December!!! We would like for the temps to stay above 40 so that we can have sweet, sweet rain. I’d be surprised if farmers here are able to raise anything but a barn next year! :-) I’m not much of a gardener at all, but I do enjoy watching all the things you are doing with your green thumb instincts intact. You talked about putting the plants in a garage where it is no less than around 45 degrees. That would never happen here!!! We get a lot of time in the teens and single digits over the winter months. If you have a heated garage like my fancy schmancy parents, then I suppose you could lower the thermostat for that area to accommodate it. Those poor church mice like us, though, wouldn’t stand a chance!!! :-) Happy Overwintering!!!

  2. Athena,
    I am amazed by your knowledge of plants and flowers. I have lots to learn, but I’m excited to go away knowing about the plant soap…I know I can manage that one…Murphy’s Oil and water…check. ;-) I wanted to thank you for stopping by today and leaving me a sweet comment about the burlap bird ornaments. I hope you have a wonderful week!
    Blessings,
    Nici

  3. oldthings says:

    Dear Athena
    Your July photo is wonderful ! They look your plants so blooming and healthy !
    It is so nice that with this way you will keep for the next spring !
    Every year I buy one or two pots but never I can save them ! I think it is very hot
    and always they die ….I learn so much for you about plants !Thank you for this !
    Καλημέρα !
    Olympia

  4. I was just going to bring the small fuchsia I have into the kitchen windowsill.
    Thanks for the great tips. The fuchsia will be in the garage,

  5. Donna Heber says:

    Hi Athena,

    I have always adored fuchsias, but we have so much sun at our house they don’t do well. Wonderful garden tips and your photos are beautiful. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  6. Great info! I love fuchsia but I’ve never been able to grow it successfully. So I stick to my impatiens and hostas which are really easy to grow!

    • AthenaMG says:

      I grow hostas too, but may try impatients next year. I have lots of sun, but Pacific Northwest sun, so it’s not as warm here as other parts of the country. Nice to hear from you!

  7. Mindy says:

    I’m not bringin’ any of mine in this year. I’ve lost more in the garage than I have left out. So they’re all stayin’ out. Fingers crossed.

    • AthenaMG says:

      Okay, this is interesting. I haven’t tried bringing them in before, but they died when I left them out. If we have a mild winter they might make it, so I hope we do! Good to hear from you, Mindy!

  8. Hi Athena,

    You are more fastidious than I with your fuschias. It would make more sense to repot them in fall than to leave them in their this years pots in the garage till spring then repot them. I have had good luck with a dark garage, although my current garage has a window, hence some light. About this time of year it looks like a nursery. Hope you are having a great week.

    Yael from Home Garden Diggers

    • AthenaMG says:

      Okay, this is helpful to know. Maybe I need to rig up a little light over the fuchsias in the garage. I have had major problems in the past trying to winter them over inside, because even though I sprayed them with insecticidal soaps, they always were covered in pests, which then decimated my seed starts in the spring. I thought if I could winter them over outside it would be a good idea. I appreciate hearing about how you did it, Yael!

  9. Beth says:

    Your fuschias are were so pretty last summer. I think it’s definitely worthwhile to try to save them. I have 4 large Boston ferns that I hang outside in the summer and I am wintering them over inside. They are not difficult to keep going inside, but they do drop ALOT of leaves. :-(
    Loved the looks of those potato pancakes too! They sound great! How nice to have your own potatoes and apples too, Athena.
    Merry Christmas!