Transplanting fuchsias

Credit: Flickr / MShades

Q: I have fuchsias growing in my garden and I’m undecided about whether I should bring them inside or leave them in the soil. (I don’t actually remember planting them!)

Fuchsias fall into two camps: those that are reasonably winter hardy in coastal B.C. and those that are not. Since you don’t know which cultivars you have, I’d treat them as though they are “tender” rather than hardy fuchsias. I’m also not sure where you live—if it’s colder than coastal B.C., you must give the plants even more protection.

Bringing fuchsias right into the house in our gloomy winters doesn’t work well—the house is warm enough that they don’t become dormant, but too dark to allow them to actually be healthy. In my experience, they drop leaves and often get aphids—generally looking untidy and miserable.

The ideal space—and you may have it!—is a sunroom or sunporch that stays just above freezing and has bright light, for example, from south-facing or west-facing windows. If you have this type of room (or a greenhouse with some heat), dig the fuchsias, pot them up with indoor potting soil and set them into the sunroom.

Otherwise, you’ll probably have better luck bringing them into your garage if it doesn’t get too much below freezing. Pot them up and tuck them into a corner. Check from time to time if they are getting dry—keep them a bit moist but not wet as they aren’t taking up much water. Since it’s cold, they don’t mind the dark. They just sort of hibernate. I had great luck with this last year with a gorgeous geranium and other treasures. My plants sat in the dark for two months last winter and didn’t go downhill at all.

If the weather gets extremely cold, you could leave a heat light on to warm the air a bit in the garage.

In spring, bring the plants into the sun on warm days and protect them at night until temps stabilize well above freezing.

The other advantage of bringing the fuschias in during cold weather is that they bloom sooner the following spring. The hardy ones often don’t bloom until well into summer, but if they are pampered, they bloom in spring.

If you don’t have a sunroom or garage, you could mound mulch up right around the crown of the fuchsia while it is still in the ground. This will give the roots some protection.