Fuchsias are deciduous shrubs that can live for many years. They become remarkable plants over the years. The advantage of having perennial fuchsias is that they can be left in the ground during the winter period.
The majority of French regions have a continental climate: it is therefore necessary that the fuchsias are hardy, resisting without special protection to temperatures below -15°C; with protection, temperatures that could be crossed.
Beware, a hardy fuchsia placed in pots or planters not winterized without frost, will not resist the winter cold because its roots around the pot will freeze.
Hardiness: is the quality of a plant to withstand a hard life. In horticulture, this often means "not freezing". For fuchsias, the aerial parts are frost resistant, so the frost resistance only concerns the stump from which to start growing again. It is therefore this that must be protected.
A fuchsia is hardy when its roots are well established in the soil. The first year of planting, protecting them from frost is a good precaution. The observations we have made in the Ile de France region and in the centre of France allow us to indicate varieties that are resistant to sub-zero temperatures for periods of more than four consecutive days.
Some fuchsias are more resistant than we imagined. In the years 1986-1987-1988, when temperatures were as low as -20°C and above for several days, with daytime temperatures of -15°C, protected by a thick layer of dry leaves, more than one sheet of plastic to prevent penetration; the varieties F. magellanica gracilis - F. magellanica alba - Carmen woke up quite normally and bloomed as early as July.
How to winterize your non-perennial fuchsias? :
Long-term storage requires some precautions.
The first enemy of the stumps is excess humidity, so the preparation begins by stopping fertilising watering at the end of summer - beginning of autumn; the stump should be kept moist but not wet. Without any protection: do not break the soil crust on the surface, which will prevent water from penetrating
In cold regions, the best exposure to ensure an early start to vegetation and better resistance to thawing is sunrise: east side and protected from the north wind.
If you do not cut the branches before winter, the dry leaves will be retained and will protect the stump. Pruning should be done in spring, as early as possible before the vegetation starts, to avoid breaking the very fragile young shoots.
If you cut the branches at the end of the season, at the beginning of winter, you must prepare for the spring by cleaning and loosening the surface by putting in amended soil. Everything must be ready for the start of vegetation.
It will be necessary to put a protective layer of 20 to 30 centimetres thick so that water cannot penetrate, a plastic sheet with air circulation; to avoid confinement, son but will protect the stump from rain.
As soon as the big frosts are over, aerate, perhaps water if the winter has been dry; beware young shoots are fragile, watering is more delicate by hand. By using a forcing veil, you can gain several weeks of flowering and protect your fuchsias from morning frosts.
To make wintering easier, the plantations are grown in loosened soil:
- loosened: for heavy soils, eliminate settling
- draining: distribute river sand, pozzolan or separating elements
- amended: perfectly decomposed or dehydrated manure - guano
- lightened: proportion of fibrous peat - leaf compost - compost with large pieces
Planting should be done 5 to 10 centimetres deeper than normal, roots will grow above the collar, which will escape frost penetration more easily.
In sandy soil, water penetrates and disappears into the subsoil. In clay or clay-limestone soil, water stagnates in the clay and promotes rotting.
Hardy fuchsias are generally disease resistant and can withstand all exposures except full sun all day; some can withstand full sun in some regions. They all like light.
Some fuchsias do not recover in spring, not because of frost but because of attacks by field mice:
- field mice gnawing on the roots under the mulch
- moles digging up fuchsias that are not yet well established
HARDINESS STUDY FOR WINTER 96-97 IN OUR FUCHSIA ACCLIMATISATION PARK A
I - PLANTING CONDITIONS :
The fuchsia plants, 9 cm diameter cups, were planted on 15 June 1996. The soil was fresh, slightly subdued and covered after planting with 7 to 8 cm of medium-sized bark.
II - THE WEATHER:
- Start of frost: 24/12/1996
- End of frost: 13/01/1997
- Minimum temperature: 29/12/1996 - 9°C; -12°C on 02/01/1997
- Pendant Frost persisted for 3 weeks, nights and days without interruption. No warming.
- Snowfall: 2 to 3 times depending on the location in the department (20 to 30 cm the first time: 24/12/1996) - (10 to 15 cm the 2nd and 3rd times: 04/01/1997 and 08/01/1997)
III - CAUSES OF THE DAMAGE:
- Exceptionally long duration of the cold weather without warming up during the day
- One cause of the persistence of the frost during the day, the snow became icy and compact: therefore impossible to remove.
IV - CONCLUSION
Despite a late planting, which did not allow the roots to sink properly into the soil, these first trials are concluded.
Only a few varieties did not resist. The spring recovery rate was 90%.
A half pruning in the autumn was carried out. The bark cover proved to be very effective, not only against the cold but also against weed growth.
In addition, the smell of the pine bark keeps the rabbits away for some time.
A hardiness parameter of the fuchsia should also be taken into account: the end of winter and the beginning of spring was so dry that some fuchsias did not start growing again due to the lack of moisture in the soil.