Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Future Fuchsias

Allotment clearing and reading Mark Diacono's book have got me thinking about a number of exciting projects for my plot. I've several new areas to play with, though I'm sure that if I sat down and listed all of the ideas I have running though my head I'd need much more than the space I actually have available.

One idea I've decided will happen is to have a fuchsia hedge across one of my quarter plots to divide it into two areas. The fuchsia produces an edible berry which is good for making jam as well as the other ideas found in Mark's book. He suggests that F. 'Riccartonii' is a good fruiting cultivar, but examination of the 2 bushes of this variety in my garden have revealed very little in the way of actual fruit.

A much better bet in my case is the pictured F. 'Genii', whose berries are much larger and surprisingly tasty. This also gets me over a dilemma because I've realised it clashes horribly with the rest of my planting (or any other combination I care to think of) even though I like it as a plant in its own right. So transferal next spring to a useful working life on the allotment saves face all round :)

I also need more than one fuchsia bush to get a useful crop of fruit. I had just enough time at the weekend to take some last minute cuttings ready before more frost hit on Sunday night...


I selected a healthy shoot (with no sign of capsid bug damage) and cut it off at around the 9 inch mark. This gave me enough material for several cuttings: a tip cutting from the top and several internodal cuttings (i.e. taken between leaves and having a set of leaves in the actual cutting) from down the stem. All flower buds were removed: this isn't ideal as cuttings taken from shoots without flowers usually root more readily, but this late in the season I couldn't find any. The larger leaves were cut in half so that the cuttings wouldn't get stressed from excessive water loss.


Here's the cuttings in their pot: I've used a small pot because I don't have a proper propagator, unlike the person who has written and photographed this step by step guide to taking fuchsia cuttings. This kind of pot works well instead with a cosy cover made from recycling one of the clear plastic bags our mail comes in, secured in place with a red elastic band Skimble 'rescued' from the postman.

A potful of compost can take several cuttings at once and you can see I've put the tip cutting in the middle of the pot. With a little misted water they're ready to work their magic over the winter. I've used some cut down pea sticks in the compost to prevent the plastic bag touching the plant material. Once the cuttings have rooted, they should be watered from below to prevent botrytis.

Note that I don't use hormone rooting powder, nor any of the alternative compost materials such as perlite for my cuttings. I haven't had problems with this in the past and it does help to keep costs (and storage space) down. I'm right on the edge by taking these cuttings so late in the season, but I didn't have the idea of having a fuchsia hedge back in the spring or summer. You may of course decide to do things differently to me :)

I'm keeping the pots indoors so I can keep a beady eye on how they're doing and to ensure they're in a place with good light over the winter. I don't have a greenhouse and I'm not sure whether my cold frame would be the best of places for them, especially if it gets really cold like it did last winter. I've taken 15 cuttings in total: much more than I actually need to make a 10ft wide hedge, but I've taken a few extra as insurance. Come the spring those cuttings which have taken will be potted up into individual pots and hardened off in my coldframe prior to planting out on the plot.

And if they don't take, I can try again in the spring...

6 comments:

  1. That was really interesting VP _ thanks for that. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow then?!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good luck with the cuttings! I have loads of salvia cuttings in my greenhouse just now which are doing well. Salvia may be my new love. I think I might bring them inside too. I love the idea of the fuchsia hedge. I'm sure it will look wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. NG - hmm now let me see... ;)

    Elizabethm - Karen's rather taken with Salvias too. I don't think anyone can visit Special Plants at this time of the year and not fall in love with them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting post VP. My 'Genii' was very late sprouting this year and did not produce any flowers - mind you it is in a north facing border. Bob Flowerdew briefly mentions fuchsias as a food crop in his book 'The Gourmet Gardener'. He recommends 'Californian Dreamer' and 'Malibu Mist' for berry size and and says that 'Nancy Lou' is pretty sweet. Do you overwinter your cuttings in an unheated room?

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Fuchsia procumbens has large berries - the name may be a hint that it is not hedge material! The leaves are tiny and it is odd the fruit is so large in comparison.
    I have stared at the fruit but never eaten one, mostly because I am worried it may be tasteless and ruin the magic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anna - my Genii's always late owing to pesky capsid bugs :(

    EG - try it and let me know!

    ReplyDelete
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...