This article was originally published on the web at myweb.tiscali.co.uk/fuchsias/ however that website is defunct at July 2013. The copyright remains with the original author.
BASKET CULTIVATION allows plants to be viewed at eye-level, from their best angle.
With fuchsia baskets you have to bear in mind that different cultivars grow and mature at different rates. Using several different cultivars in one basket could result in an uneven and unbalanced look. It is far better therefore to stick to just one cultivar per basket though you can use as many plants as you like.
It is common practice to plant up baskets in early spring, by placing five or seven plants (ex 3½" pots grown on from autumn or winter cuttings and having been stopped at least twice) in a 12",14" or 16" basket. One is placed in the centre and the others evenly spaced around the edge. Use trailing varieties and place them at a slight angle to encourage them to cascade over the edge.
Shaping (pinching out at every two or three pairs of leaves), watering and feeding should be attended to regularly. Take good care to be particularly careful with watering in the early stages, when there is such a large quantity of compost in proportion to the still small volume or roots. Loam based compost is too heavy for baskets so use a good quality peat based potting compost, complimented with horticultural grit, vermiculite or perlite to aid drainage, some slow release fertiliser and water retaining granules. Water retention is also aided by lining the basket with polythene and piercing drainage holes a couple of inches up, not at the very bottom to create just a little reservoir. Fuchsias, like most plants, do not like to have their feet permanently sat in water, so do not overdo it and ensure you make adequate drainage holes further up.
The best position for baskets varies depending on what you put into them. Some plants are quite happy on sun baked walls, but many, and this includes fuchsias in my opinion, prefer a semi-shaded position and even do well on the north side. Much easier on the watering too! Avoid windy corners. Drying winds do a lot of damage to young plants and also make the baskets dry out far too quickly. Remember that regular watering and feeding is essential during summer months and be especially careful on windy days, this dries baskets out just as much as sunshine.
HANGING POTS, being smaller, are more manageable than baskets - so important with space for growing and transporting at a premium.
Fuchsias used for hanging pots should be in good proportion to the pot, preferably having small or medium flowers. Cultivars should be of trailing or lax habit, self-branching plants are the easiest to use for this purpose. Aim for a balanced ball-shape, growth filling the centre and top of the hanging pot and cascading over the edge to at least the depth of the pot.
Choose early spring cuttings, autumn cuttings or 2nd year plants. Plant up in final container during April or May. Loam based compost is too heavy so use a good quality peat based potting compost, complimented with horticultural grit, vermiculite or perlite to aid drainage, some slow release fertiliser and water retaining granules
Shaping (pinching out at every two or three pairs of leaves), watering and feeding should be attended to regularly.
Everyone has their own favourites and for growing at home certainly just grow what you really like. Over the years it has been noticed that certain varieties that so many members of the public love to grow never get a look in onto the show benches. This is a great shame really, as members of the general public get a real thrill from recognising them as the ones they grow at home. (This, by the way, doesn't just apply to the basket/hanging pot classes, but to other classes too. Especially the hardy classes, where we tend to see the easy to conform to mushroom shaping cultivars like Mr. A. Hugget and Tom Thumb, while people are expecting to see the arching lovelies like Mrs. Popple and the Magellanicas.)
Other Top Ten basket favourites were Auntie Jinks, Border Queen, Daisy Bell, Derby Imp, Ernie Bromley, Harry Gray, Hermiena, Jack Shahan, La Campanella, Marinka, Multa, Pres. Margaret Sater, Shelford, Susan Green, Swingtime. It is especially good to see gold old Marinka, nearly a century old now still holding its own!
So, if you want to be a winner, you ought to consider those. But, over the years some really stunning baskets have been produced with less popular cultivars and those baskets (and hanging pots) have always ended up being the real much talked about show stoppers, so it can pay to be different too.
Varieties falling into this category were triphyllas such as Trumpeter, Leverhulme & Chantry Park, the colourful, variegated Tom West, Brutus, Devonshire Dumpling, Waveney Sunrise, Cascade, Lillian Annetts and Sir Matt Busby.