container gardens
The Splendid Fuchsias
Espaliers and Pyramids

   In planters or raised beds of containers, fuchsias can be trained into interesting espalier forms against a wall or fence where the space may be too narrow for other plants. Though not difficult, the espalier plant requires time and patience. First make a trellis of wood or wire. Five to seven tiers are customary. Then train your plant as it grows, pinching growth frequently to induce branching and to avoid bare stems. Varieties to espalier include the red-and-scarlet Falling Stars, the blue-and-rose Coquette, and the red-and-white Dr. John Gallwey.

   Fuchsias can also be trained into pyramids in the manner of formal English ivy plants. Since the young fuchsia shoots tend to break easily, it takes patience and a steady hand to tie them properly to the form. Fully grown plants are delightful in a formal setting, and a pair for an en-tranceway are distinctive indeed.

Basic Needs

   These tender woody plants do best under cool, humid conditions. They are especially successful in coastal areas, where fog and humidity prevail, though some varieties, as the single all-red Mephisto and the red-and-white Mine. Cornelissen, will thrive in hot, dry inland regions. They are great favorites because they bloom in shade, not the heavy shade of low-branching trees, but high, open shade and that found on the north side of a building. In dense shade, plants get leggy and flower sparingly. In hot, direct sunshine, however, they dry out and the leaves burn. In hot climates, lathhouses provide ideal conditions. Windy locations should be avoided because of the delicate flowers and brittle branches.

   Moisture is essential. Plants announce dryness by wilting. In containers, they usually need water every day and sometimes more often. Good drainage is important. In the bottom of the container provide sufficient rough material-broken flower pots, pebbles, or cinders-to insure free passage of water. Do not allow pots to stand in water, and in hot weather sprinkle the foliage to remove dust and increase humidity.

   Fuchsias require an acid soil. The mixture must be rich in organic matter. A good combination consists of one part good garden loam, one part leafmold or peatmoss, and either one part old manure or a small amount in dehydrated form.

   Containers should be large enough to allow for full development of plants during the summer growing season. A small plant needs a six-inch pot; if two or three are grown together, use a ten- or twelve-inch pot. Starting with young plants is preferable, although large specimens are satisfactory if they are healthy and vigorous. When fuchsias are wintered in containers and are not treated as annuals, you can enrich the growing medium the first year by scooping a few inches of soil from the top and replacing it with a fresh mixture.