HOW TO TAKE FUCHSIA CUTTINGS IN THE UK
By David Marks
Fuchsias are very exotic looking plants and at first glance it may appear that taking cuttings would be a hit and miss affair but nothing could be further from the truth. Even the most amateur gardener can successfully grow six or more new plants from one original.
Another benefit is that each cutting will be an exact replica of the parent plant. Give it a try with our step by step instructions to fuchsia cuttings and helpful photographs.
There are two times of the year when fuchsia cuttings are normally taken, by far the most common is in spring for growing and flowering during the same year. This article is aimed at those who wish to take cuttings in spring. It is however becoming more common for gardeners to take cuttings in August for overwintering and either flowering the next year or to provide cuttings very early in the next year.
EQUIPMENT FOR TAKING FUCHSIA CUTTINGS
The equipment needed for your cuttings is minimal and we list each item below:
- One pot per cutting. The best size to start the cuttings of is approximately 8cm / 3in wide at the top. It doesn’t really matter what the pot is made from, we use standard plastic ones which are the most widely available and also relatively cheap.
- Enough multi-purpose compost to fill the pots. Forget any complicated potting mixtures, keep it simple and use the basic multi-purpose compost it does the job perfectly. It will have sufficient nutrients in it to last the plant for four to six weeks.
- A sharp knife is essential to avoid damaging the stem when cutting the stems.
- A mother plant to take cuttings from which is in good health.
- A marker tab so that you know which variety you have taken cuttings from plus two more tabs per plant to support the temporary covering.
- Cling film or a clear plastic bag to cover the cutting with to prevent excessive moisture loss.
- Hormone rooting powder if you believe it works. Personally we can find no independent scientific evidence that it works.
- A frost free area is required to “grow-on” your fuchsia cuttings. A windowsill out of direct sunlight in a heated house is ideal for cuttings to grow on.
CORRECT TIME TO TAKE FUCHSIA CUTTINGS IN SPRING
To take fuchsia cuttings in spring you need a healthy “mother” plant(s) and it needs to be of a certain size to allow at least two or more cuttings to be taken. If you have managed to overwinter your fuchsias then there will be no problem but if you have not, then you will need to buy a mother plant and take cuttings from that. Buy your mother plants as early in the year as possible to allow them time to increase in size and give you four or five cuttings from each.
Unusually in the gardening world it’s probably best to buy your “mother” plants from a garden centre rather than online if you want them as early in the year as possible (although read the rest of this section for more specific information). The reason for this is that the majority of online suppliers only start sending out their stock of fuchsias in mid to late March because they cannot rely on the temperature being high enough in the postal system for the plants to survive the delivery time of two to three days. However, deliveries to garden centres are in controlled temperatures and they tend to have fuchsia plants for sale in early to mid March, occasionally late February.
That difference of two to three weeks is not crucial at all if you are simply interested in a few plants to grow on but if you want to use the plants to take cuttings from then it does give you two to three weeks head start. The remainder of this article assumes that you buy your “mother” plant(s) in the first week of March. You may need to adjust the dates a week or so back or forwards depending on when you buy the plant.
As soon as you have the “mother” plant(s) put then in a slightly larger pot with new general purpose compost. If they are plug plants put them into 8cm / 3in pots. Let them grow on for three weeks and take your first cuttings in The fourth week of March
EIGHT STEP BT STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO FUCHSIA CUTTINGS
Follow our easy eight steps, with pictures, as listed below:
- Fuchsias grow well from cuttings in normal multi-purpose compost, so fill up a 7cm / 3in wide pot with the compost, place it in a shallow container of water and leave it there to suck up the water for 20 minutes. Remove it from the water and let it drain for a couple of minutes.
- Take a good look at the “mother” plant and identify a healthy shoot. The picture below shows one we selected.
You are looking for a shoot that has three or four sets of leaves on it with a length of about 8cm to 10cm (3in to 4in). Cut the shoot off just below a leaf node (click the picture above to see more clearly) as shown in the pictures above and below.
- Prepare the shoot by removing the two lower leaves at the bottom leaf node (bend the leaves back and they will snap off or cut off with a sharp knife).The amount of leaves you now leave on the stem is a balancing act. Too many leaves and the cutting is likely to wilt from water loss, two few leaves and the leaf area will not be large enough to support the growing roots. With the cutting above we would remove the left leaf as well but equally it could be left on.
- Now is the time to dip the cutting in hormone rooting powder liquid if you believe it works, we can find no scientific evidence that it does. Follow the instructions exactly as stated on the pack.
- Make a hole in the compost with a plant marker about 3cm deep and place the cutting in the hole. Gently firm down the compost around the stem. You want the compost to be just below the lowest two leaves but at the same time they leaf should not be touching the compost.
- Cover the new cutting with a plastic bag or some cling film. Support the plastic using three plant markers one of which has the name of the variety on it. The plastic should not touch the cutting leaves and it’s best not to tie the plastic to the pot in order to allow a small amount of ventilation.
- Finally place the new cutting out of direct sunlight in an area where the temperature is in the range 16°C to 21°C (60°F to 70°F). Keep a watch on the cutting every day or so to ensure the compost remains moist. The cutting will take about two weeks to root at which point remove the bag and grow on in the same conditions.
- The cuttings should only be placed outside when they have established a good root system and all danger of frost has passed which is the second week of May.
THREE LEAF CUTTINGS
Fuchsias normally produce two leaves at each node but occasionally they produce three leaves as shown in the picture below.
Many experts in the fuchsia world believe that a cutting taken from a three leaf node produces a bushier plant compared to a normal two leaf cutting. It does sound a reasonable proposition but no comparisons are available to prove the point. We suspect that far more important to a bushy plant is the way the plant is pinched out throughout its life.
Our experience of over-wintering fuchsias is that it is difficult to do without a greenhouse. The reason for the difficulty is that they need to kept at a constant low temperature for several months over winter. They also need the compost to be kept slightly dry without drying out completely.
The other problem will be pest and / or disease. Fungal infections and pests (primarily red spider mite and vine weevils) occur all too often.
However, if you do wish to give it a try we recommend you read the article we have written (click here).
COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS
|Date: 1 March 2021
|COMMENT: Yes, I’ve grown 2 amazing fuchsias by placing cuttings in water. Be patient as they may take a couple of weeks to get some nice long roots. I then just planted in regular potting mix.
|Date: 2 October 2018
|From: Pat R
|QUESTION: Can I take fuchsia cuttings now October to root in water?
ANSWER: I’ve never tried rooting fuchsias in water, mainly because they root very well in multipurpose compost.As to the timing, if you can provide the correct amount of light and and heat they should root in October. They will need very careful care to last the winter.
|Date: 17 July 2016
|As it is now summer, is it too late to take Fuchsia cuttings?
ANSWER: It’s not too late to take cuttings. The problem is that there probably isn’t sufficient time for them to grow fully this late in the season. If you can overwinter the plants then of course they will have a head start for next year.