If you’re heartbroken to say goodbye to your favourite fuchsia come fall–try overwintering fuchsias! In full, vibrant bloom, fuchsia plants look like a party in a pot. And they attract the most beautiful guests: iridescent hummingbirds and colorful butterflies. But so much partying can be tiring, so these lovely plants need a good season of rest. Enter winter.
If you’re blessed with the ideal fuchsia climate (70F summers and 40F winters), then your outdoor plants will go through their own natural dormant period. But for the rest of us, we can try our hands at overwintering fuchsias, indoors.
Overwintering Fuchsias: Sleeping Beauties
The easiest way to overwinter is to simply let your potted fuchsia go completely dormant. The steps you take may seem harsh, but they are actually kind to the plant. Fuchsia don’t rest well on a “full stomach,” so stop feeding them by September. Slowly reduce watering in October as the plant’s leaves and blooms begin to fade. As a deciduous plant, they will drop their leaves in the fall.
If you are expecting a frost and they are still holding on to some of their foliage, carefully clip off any remaining leaves. (This allows them to conserve energy and helps prevent bugs from hitchhiking inside.) Prune the stems to about 4 to 6 inches above the soil. Remove the top inch of soil and bring them indoors.
Dormant fuchsias can be placed in any cool, dark area that remains about 45F. Basements and garages are often good resting places. Although your little sleeping beauty requires less water, it will die if not watered at all. Large pots can be watered about once every 4 to 6 weeks, but small pots will usually dry out quicker and need attention more often.
You want the soil to be moist, but never wet. An alternative is to water from below by setting the pots on saucers. Fill the saucers with water and allow the plants to soak it up through their roots. Empty the saucers of any remaining water after 15 minutes drinking time.
Time to Wake Up!
When you are one month before your last expected frost, it’s time to gently wake your fuchsias from their long winter’s nap. Bring them into a room with bright filtered light and begin to water more often. Many homes still have furnaces running, so avoid placing them near heat vents or in overheated rooms. The warmer temperatures and light of the lengthening days will bring your plants “back to life.”
If the outdoor temperature is at least 45F, you can place them in a protected outside area in the day and bring them back inside when the temperature dips lower overnight. Once the last expected frost has passed, you can leave your fuchsias outside in filtered sunlight and resume their usual feeding and watering routine.
Here’s hoping for a successful overwintering of your fuchsias!