Hi. I bought several fuchsia starts this spring and they have been feeding our local hummingbirds all summer.
What is the best way to treat these fuchsias over the winter? When I bring them in, should I cut them back? How often should I water them? Please help, Diana
Answer: Holding over what are annuals in your area is always tricky but it is possible with many of them if you remember you have to simulate their growing habits. The typical home in winter is very dry and warm, so you will want to increase the humidity around the plant. The days are shorter, and usually lack sunshine, so you might need to add artificial lighting, as well. Fuchsia would need to come in before the first frost in your area. Pruning back by at least a third would be best. Be sure to treat the plant for any pests that might be traveling indoors. The easiest way is to make a mild mixture of dish soap and water, spray the plant liberally, and rinse with the hose. Place the plant in a window with bright light but not direct sun, away from drafts or furnace vents. Slow down the watering by letting it almost completely dry before watering again. The plant may go into semi-dormancy and drop leaves. If it does, just let it rest for a while and don’t water as often. In March, start watering with a very mild fertilizer, and you should start seeing new growth on the plant. You can move it outside on warm days but if the nights are below the upper 40s, you need to bring it back inside or just wait until your last frost date to take it outside. It will take it a while to catch back up to those that are being offered for salebut it should.
I personally hold over a significant number of annuals through the winter and I have mixed success every year. Some things do quite well; others struggle or succumb, but I am always happy to have a few plants to begin the spring season with.
Remember, you may still have hummingbirds traveling after you bring in your Fuchsia, so leave some feeders out for a while until they’ve all made the migration south.
Happy winter gardening,