If you want your garden to have character and visual interest, but don’t want to give up your privacy shrubs, check out fuchsias.
They have everything on the list and are simple to grow. One thing you do need to know, though, is that you should prune and cut them back annually if you want them to give their best.
And the thing about fuchsia shrubs is that they come in hardy and tender varieties, which have different pruning requirements.
I’ll talk all about this in the following sections so that you have all the important info before you start any trimming.
Let’s get started!
Hardy vs Tender Fuchsias
Fuchsias are on the list of amazing tall potted plants for privacy, but you’ll have to know the difference between hardy and tender varieties before choosing one for your yard.
Hardy fuchsia shrubs thrive in USDA hardiness zones 6-10 and can survive unpredictable winter conditions. They still need shelter from harsh winds.
These varieties are easy going and all they need is well-drained soil and full sun or light shade to flourish.
Tender fuchsias, on the other hand, are only hardy in zones 10-11 and certainly won’t survive cold conditions without being overwintered indoors.
They are also a lot fussier than the hardy varieties and need well-drained soil that’s moist but never wet, as well as plenty of sunlight because they won’t flower in shade.
All these requirements make hardy and tender fuchsias suitable for certain regions, but also affect their pruning requirements.
Leave Pruning Hardy Fuchsias Until After Winter
If you’ve decided upon hardy fuchsias, you’ll be glad to know that they don’t require any pruning until after the peak winter cold is gone.
You can leave the old and brown growth to insulate your plant and help protect its crown from the harsh conditions.
And since there aren’t any cuts and open wounds, you reduce the risk of diseases entering the plant and wreaking havoc all over its tissue.
Chop Them In Spring
The best time to prune hardy fuchsia shrubs is in spring, more specifically late March or early April. In fact, you should wait until all danger of the last spring frost has passed before taking your garden scissors and starting to cut.
If you prune your fuchsias annually, you should cut your plant about 2-4 inches above the ground, leaving some leaf buds behind.
And if your shrub is old, woody, and requires rejuvenating, you can prune it all the way to the ground to stimulate new growth.
Finally, if you live in a region with mild winters, you can prune your hardy fuchsias in late winter, such as January or February. This will promote early growth and prolong your blooming season.
But avoid late winter pruning if you live in an area that suffers from sudden spring frosts.
Trimming A Hardy Fuchsia Hedge
The same technique applies to fuchsia hedges. You should trim them down in early spring to allow for even growth. Leggy shrubs are unattractive, so make sure to do this annually to avoid this issue.
Start from the outer branches until you get to the healthy parts or leaf nodes. The key is to give these shrubs a hedgy appearance, but know that there will always be unruly stems that can turn out to be the star of the show.
Sometimes, too many leaves and flowers can overcrowd your shrub and reduce air circulation. This can lead to a number of issues, including susceptibility to fungal diseases, which is why you should turn to hard pruning.
It can also make your hedge look messy and out of control. If this happens, you might need to cut it back all the way.
In this case, the best technique is to chop down alternate bushes within the next few years so that you still have some privacy and interest in your garden.
And if you just can’t bear the leggy and unruly appearance of your shrubs, you can cut them all back, plant some replacement flowers, and wait until they reach their former glory in a year or two.
Cut Back Tender Fuchsias Before Overwintering Them
Tender fuchsias need plenty of kindness, love, and attention. They are much more susceptible to frost damage than the hardy varieties, so you should bring them indoors over winter.
If you grow them in the garden, you should uproot them before September ends, plant them in pots, and prune them to about half their size during this time.
That’s when you should leave plenty of leaves, but also leave some growth. And when spring comes, you should remove all weak and damaged stems.
As the plant continues to grow, you should prune the tips of the side branches whenever you notice about three sets of true leaves so as to promote more bushy growth. You can stop doing this when your fuchsia gets to your desired size.
Spring is also a great time to take fuchsia cuttings, at least when it comes to tender varieties. Therefore, you can combine pruning with propagation and kill two birds with one stone.
Pro tip: Remember to sterilize your pruners or garden scissors with rubbing alcohol before and after pruning to minimize the risk of transferring bacteria and fungi onto your plants.
Prune Fuchsias Like A National Trust Gardener
National Trust gardens are some of the most beautiful places in the UK, and they house numerous plants, including fuchsias, which are one of the best flowers to attract hummingbirds.
But unlike ordinary shrubs, they train their Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ onto arches and prune them in late winter or some time between late February and early March.
If you have a free space in your garden for a small arch or a trellis, you can try growing fuchsias this way and prune them like a National Trust gardener.
After the initial late winter trim, you can cut out any young stems you don’t want, whether it’s because they’re growing in a direction you don’t like, are damaged by wind, or simply don’t look healthy.
Once this is all over, you can tie the stronger branches onto the arch, which will become the structure of the whole exhibition as you prune down the older shoots.
This may require a lot of hard work, so make sure not to bite off more than you can chew. Start with a small and short arch, and slowly ease into the new way of growing fuchsias.
And once you’re done with pruning, it’s time for winter care.
Protecting Arched Fuchsias In Winter
As the winter approaches, wrap the bottom part of the arch together with young fuchsia stems in a protective cover to keep the emerging roots warm during winter.
And once winter is over, fertilize and mulch the shrubs with compost and chicken manure in spring when the soil warms up and your plant wakes from dormancy.
This kind of mulch will ensure your plant has more than enough nutrients to go on with its growing season. It will also trap some moisture in the soil and prepare your fuchsias for hot summer conditions.