Recently I had one of those “could have had a V8 moments.” I realized I could keep my fuchsia plants alive over the winter, and propagate fuchsias from cuttings to grow more in the spring. Although winter may cause the plants to go a bit dormant and lose the beautiful profusion of flowers, they’ll come back in the spring!
It all started with a hanging fuchsia fetish—and a bit of a tragedy. You see every year, I buy at least one hanging plant to spruce up my garage. Generally all is well, but two summers ago, my vacation plant waterer completely missed my fuchsia. By the time I got home, it was a mass of dried sticks. Sadly I set it aside, since it was too late to replace.
It was quickly forgotten until fall when… (insert mysterious music) something strange began to happen. New shoots started popping up all over the plant. Clearly this Fuchsia had a will to live, coming back from the dead on scattered rainfall!
I brought it back into the house and resumed watering. It grew slowly over winter, but by spring was almost lush. When summer came it began to flower, so I put it back out on the garage. I’ve kept it ever since.
Enter innovation number two. If you take cuttings from your plant, it is super easy to make new plants. Just follow the steps below.
How to Propagate Fuchsias
Take cuttings. Cut (relatively) new growth about fives inches long and strip the leaves off the lower couple inches. Be sure to use sections that haven’t gotten woody–as a fuchsia ages, the stems turn hard and brown and those stems wouldn’t root.
Place the cuttings in a container of water. The leaves should be above the water line, with the stripped stem below. Contrary to a lot of the advice on the internet, you don’t need to use rooting hormone (that is covered in warnings about toxicity). Plain water works beautifully.
Wait about three weeks. Check for root growth periodically. Monitor the water level and replace as needed.
Plant. When you have a good inch or so of root growth you can plant the cuttings. Just bury the stem section below the leaves in potting soil and keep it moist. Five cuttings will fill a pot nicely (once it fills out).
Just a few other tips. Rather than keep a pot of grizzled old fuchsias forever, you may wish to periodically replace your pot with new cuttings. After a while, the plants become woody and stiff and don’t drape quite as well over the edges of the pots.
Remember that these are shade plants. I felt guilty for “scalping” my original plant and put it out on the back porch to rejuvenate. Pretty soon it had a case of sunburn, in addition to a bad haircut. Luckily it survived; we have established that it is tough. But… oops.
Besides being a great frugal measure, making your own new plants is very green. No trucking plants across the country, you can reuse containers and use homemade compost instead of commercial potting soil. And you can beautify your summer for free!
Happy Earth Day!