Cultivar.This is simply an abbreviation of the words 'cultivated variety' and is now used universally. At one time we referred to them as varieties but, botanically speaking, a VARIETY is a variant of a species which has constant heritable differences. For instance, the wild species Fuchsia Magellanica has a good number of these variants such as Fuchsia Magellanica variety Alba ( abbreviated to F. Magellanica var. Alba). F. Magellanica var. Gracilis and F. Magellanica var. Ricartonnii.
Fuchsia Flowers.These can be single having four petals, semi double having 5, 6 or 7 petals and double having 8 or more petals.
The flower grows out of a leaf axil on the stem of a plant on a stalk known as the PEDICEL. At the end of the Pedicel is the OVARY, sometimes referred to as the seed pod or berry, extending from this is the TUBE which eventually divides to form the four SEPALS. Attached to and growing from the tube are the PETALS which collectively make up the COROLLA. Click here to learn about hybridizing.
Attached to and growing from the inside of the Tube are 8 FILAMENTS terminating in the ANTHERS on which pollen is produced and are collectively known as the STAMENS and are the male part of the flower.
Also extending out of the Corolla but growing from the Ovary is the STYLE which terminates in the STIGMA. The Ovary, Style and Stigma are collectively known as the Pistil and are the female part of the flower.
Striking Cuttings.This simply means putting cuttings into some form of growing medium and keeping them in conditions conducive to developing roots. When roots are formed we can say the cuttings have 'struck'.
Potting Up.This is an expression used generally when putting a cutting which has 'struck' into it's first pot. It is also used when a plant which has filled it's pot with roots is put into a larger size pot, although most growers use the expression 'Potting On' for this operation.
Stopping or Pinching Out.This simply means that as soon as the cutting has reached the desired height, the growing tip is removed by either pinching it out with a pair of fine scissors or similar tool while still very tiny. Removing whilst small means there is no wasted growth on the plant. Of course there are times when one may wish to wait until the tip is big enough to use as another cutting.
Break.If a plant is stopped after three sets of leaves have formed then one can expect shoots, if not already there, will begin to grow (or break) from the six leaf axils. The axil being the point where the leaf grows from the main stem of the plant.
Potting Down.An expression used when plants, normally in early Spring, are removed from their pots, have some or most of the old compost removed and then, using new compost, and placed into pots of a smaller size.Standard Pots.These are pots of the same height as the width across the inside of the top. If showing plants at a show run under British Fuchsia Society rules then standard pots must be used
Most growers use the peat based composts easily found in garden centres, but this by itself is not entirely suitable as it becomes compacted after a period of time and watering which deprives the roots of vital oxygen and if allowed to dry out too much becomes difficult to get wet again.A common 'mix' used by fuchsia growers is 6 parts of compost - 1 part of perlite- 1 part sharp grit. The perlite keeps the compost 'open' allowing air circulation around the roots and also takes up water and releases it back into the compost. The grit also keeps the compost open, aids drainage and adds a bit of weight.Fuchsias in pots should never be kept permanently wet, this again stops air circulating round the roots and drowns the plant. It is far better to let them dry out slightly before watering but not to the point where they are wilting. Water must be present to allow the plant to take up nutrients from the compost.A lot can be learnt from picking plants up and comparing the weight of one against another.If a plant does become waterlogged you might just save it by removing it from the pot and standing it on a folded newspaper. It's surprising just how long a waterlogged plant can stay in this condition even in the middle of Summer.Try to avoid watering in the middle of the day in Summer. Especially plants in pots which may be stood in full sun. Adding water to the already warm compost can 'boil' the roots. Better to water first thing in the morning and again, if necessary, in the evening.If I were to lay out any rules then they would be as follows.RULE 1. Never surmise that because the first plant you pick up is dry, that all the rest are dry and proceed to give them all a blast with the hose pipe from the greenhouse door. Pick them all up. RULE 2. Never surmise that the plant at the back of all the others needs watering because it's wilting. It could well be waterlogged. Pick them all up.RULE 3. Never grow that many that you can't carry out rules 1 and 2.
Greenhouses. Anyone thinking of starting a collection of fuchsias should seriously consider purchasing a greenhouse. This will give you far better control whilst over wintering and propagating, How big a greenhouse do you need? The answer is as big as you can afford, you will soon fill it.
Aluminium or wooden? This is your choice. Aluminium will last a lot longer but somehow is not as pleasing to the eye and has its own problems when installing staging, shelving, etc. A wooden one overcomes this problem but will need constant maintenance.
Whatever your choice, most greenhouses never seem to come with enough opening vents. They may be adequate during the Winter and early Spring months but, once the danger of frost has passed, controlling the temperature can be helped by removing the top panes of glass in each gable. Replace with netting to keep out birds and insects. Removing one or two panes from around the base will also greatly assist in air circulation.
The door can be left open, but a wooden frame covered with netting, should be stood in the opening, again to keep out birds and insects but it also keeps out the neighbour's cats who seem to enjoy basking on a tray of cuttings.Fuchsias prefer a cool humid atmosphere and really should not be in the greenhouse at the height of Summer.If you intend exhibiting your fuchsias then, if room permits, construct a nethouse for use in the summer. This is similar to a greenhouse except the sides are covered with fine netting and a flat roof is constructed with clear corrugated plastic sheets. The netting keeps out insects and cuts down wind whilst the roof keeps the rain off the flowers.
Feeding.Fuchsias definitely benefit from supplemental feeding, but which one do you use and when?Pick up any plant food and you will find an analysis somewhere on the packaging. But what does N.P.K. stand for?. 'N' stands for Nitrogen and promotes stem and leaf growth, 'P' is for Phosphates which feeds the roots and 'K' is the chemical symbol for Potash which helps to ripen or harden the plant and enhances the colour of the flower.Underneath the letters N.P.K. you will find a set of three numbers. If they are all the same such as 1-1-1 this means that this feed has the same ratio of fertilisers and is an equal strength feed. You may find some feeds say 25-25-25, this does not mean it is any stronger, it is just the manufacturers way of saying it is an equal strength feed.A high Nitrogen feed may be 25-15-15 whilst a high Potash feed would say 15-15-25.Cuttings or plants which have just been potted up into new compost should have sufficient feed from that compost to last them four or five weeks. It is after this time that they will need some sort of feed. A general rule of thumb is to use a high Nitrogen feed early in the season and change to an equal strength feed mid season. A high potash feed will enhance the colour of the flower and ripens or hardens the stems. Most fuchsia growers tend to avoid high potash feeds as it can harden the wood so much that, if plants are to be kept for a second year, it can be difficult to get them into growth again.A quarter strength feed can be given at every watering. A little often is better than a lot all at once but never feed a plant which is dry, this can harm the feeding roots.Learn a lot more about compost and feeding here