So, it’s time to overwinter your fuchsias so they can get some “plant sleep” and come back next year with full glory.
Did you know they can be winterized? And that they’re perennials?
Congrats. Now you know. Sadly, most people don’t so they end up in the compost bin (or worse, the trash can!).
These ornamental plants definitely can be saved if the proper conditions are provided during the winter.
So that’s what we’ll cover in this guide. Let’s roll.
Fuchsia care guide
|Origin||Central America, South America|
|Other names||Lady’s eardrums, konini|
|Sunlight requirement||Partial sun|
|Bloom season||Spring, summer|
|Colors||Pink, purple, green, red, pastel|
|Max height||3-8 feet|
|Max width||1-5 feet|
|Watering requirements||Often during spring, summer|
|Days until germination||14-120 days|
|Days until bloom||Varies|
|Speed of growth||Fast|
|Common pests||Thrips, whiteflies, grapevine moths, two spotted mites|
|Common diseases||Rust, botrytis|
|Uses||Decoration, color, edible salads (specific types only- do your research)|
Winterizing fuchsia: Things to know
Fuchsias are gorgeous plants, but they’re not exactly cold hardy.
These flowering ornamentals are a staple color for any garden.
However, most inexperienced gardeners throw them out when the winter arrives because they wilt. Most people don’t even know that they’re PERENNIALS and come back next year!
Something must be done.
So I’m here to shed some advice on these little guys.
They’re capable of coming back after winter, but need some special care during the cold season to do so. They’re not annuals after all. Take care of them and they’ll reward you when the sun comes back next year.
They have a splash of pleasure to your garden year after year. Imagine that- buying some fuchsias and having them come back on their own (without having to buy new ones). Ain’t that something?
Are they frost hardy?
If you’re here, you probably already know the answer.
They’re not tolerant of cold temperatures below 30F. Fuchsias are NOT some plants that do well on their own. They need some special care during the winter, which is why you prepare them for overwintering.
Of course, if you’re somewhere that has mild (or even warm) winters, you should be OK with minimal care. There are some things you can do to help keep your plant safe and tidy so you get the biggest and most colorful blooms next season.
And for those that are situated in colder regions, you’ll have to do some more work to keep these plants tidy and safe.
But that’s why you’re here- so let’s dive in and winterize your fuchsias!
Fuchsia hardiness zones
There are many different types of fuchsia.
Depending on the type you grow, you should always choose the right one for your hardiness zone.
Did you already mess up? Did you choose something that’s not optimal for your area?
Or did you hit it spot on?
It doesn’t matter.
These plants are all usually within the same hardiness zones with only minimal variations. Most fuchsia will thrive in zones 7-10. The most popular cultivar by far is fuchsia magellanica, which is commonly found at your local hardware nursery.
This is the one that’s sold to unbeknownst gardeners who toss them out after the fall because they think it was a failed project. When in reality, it’s just going dormant for winter and can spring back to life postseason.
This species is also known as the hardy fuchsia because of its winter cold tolerance. Zones 7 and 8 will have to do some upkeep to maintain it, but other zones should be OK.
Whatever type you have, keep reading to learn how to protect it. Any of the hardy types be just fine.
But if you happen to have a different, more sensitive cultivar to cold, you may want to take some extreme measures and bring it indoors.
Potted fuchsia or ones that are grown in hanging baskets tend to be the sensitive type.
If you don’t know what type you have, there’s a section in this guide to identify it. But the general rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t have orange flowers, it’s likely not hardy fuchsia.
How much cold can they tolerate?
This depends on the type of fuchsia you’re growing.
Some can tolerate changes in temperatures as low as 10F, but these are the hardy types that aren’t commonly found in greeneries. Most fuchsias should be comfortable right around the 45F range during the winter to enter dormancy.
How to winterize fuchsia
Here’s the process for overwintering these gorgeous beauts.
Depending on what type of fuchsia you have, the process may vary. Use your best judgment and decide on what path to take.
Prune fuchsia for winter prep
The first thing you need to do is clean up.
Doing some basic pruning and tidying up will help get your plant set up for a bountiful bloom next season. Get a good pair of garden pruners and remove any wilting or dead leaves.
Also, snip off any spent leaves.
Don’t be afraid of cutting back your plant- this is necessary anyway.
Or else you’ll provide the possibility of root rot, mold, or pests. Cut off any soft or infected branches. Trim off overgrown or untidy foliage.
And cut off damaged blossoms. Prune everything but the stems.
This is what you’ll leave behind to help protect the plant during the cold nights.
When should you cut back for winter?
Cutting back is necessary for winter prep.
The best time to do so depends on the arrival of the first cold snap.
You’ll notice that your fuchsia will start to wilt and the blossoms shrivel up.
This is a signal that it’s time to start cutting back. If you ignore the dead foliage, it can start to attract pests and plant diseases. Clean up the debris right away and begin cutting back in preparation for winter.
Should you deadhead your fuchsia?
Fuchsia will wilt their foliage automatically, so there’s no need to deadhead the plant. The leaves will be dropped naturally and deadheading can be avoided.
However, you should be purring off any damaged or wilting leaves so the energy can be conserved for other uses.
When the flowers are dropped, they leave behind some seed pods that are wasted entirely. You can discourage this waste by turning off new foliage when preparing for the winter.
Should you cut back in the early fall?
Pruning in the autumn can be helpful for weak foliage or growth, but is largely unnecessary.
If you notice that your fuchsia is weak or wilting, prune off those bits and prepare for the winter. There’s usually no need to prune early fall.
Before you do anything, you’ll want to get rid of any current pest infestations on your plant. If you add mulch, burlap covers, or even take the plant indoors, you risk the pests destroying the plant.
Give it a good spray with a high-pressure hose to knock off any loose bugs. Do a thorough evaluation of your plant for pest activity. You can also add in some organic pesticides if needed in the mulch.
But pruning the plant and deadheading it should remove the majority of hungry bugs.
Add some mulch to help protect the roots of the plant. A thick layer around the base stem of your fuchsia helps trap warm air in the soil.
This helps keep the root system of your plant safe against swings in temperature. The morning sun will warm it up and the mulch traps the heat overnight so it doesn’t dip too low.
Even in a cold snap, cold temperatures may end up damming the stem and foliage, but the roots should be fine.
Use a high-quality mulch such as straw, wood chips, or leaves. Place up to 6” of mulch in a fine layer around the stem of the plant. Do NOT let the mulch touch the stem.
This may add various pests and mold to your stem, so keep them separate. Keep at least a 1” space between your mulch and the fuchsia stem.
If you’re in zones 7 or 8, you’ll likely need to mulch during the winter with the full 6” depth.
However, those in zones 9 or 10 should be fine with just a few inches.
Assess the local weather report and add accordingly. If the winters are mild, don’t go overboard with mulch. You’ll do more damage than good. The colder it is, the more mulch you put.
Another thing to think about is the age of your fuchsia. Younger plants aren’t established yet, so they’re more prone to cold damage.
They have less protection and thus can’t tolerate cold snaps like older plants. Feel free to add extra mulch to your smaller ones.
congrats. You’re on your way to preparing your fuchsias for winter. Mulching is the easiest and fastest way to offer some above soil protection.
Use plant covers
You can use plant covers to offer that guaranteed protection for your plants.
There are dozens of different types of covers you can use- there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Depending on the size of your plant, use the cheapest one you can get away with. If your plant is still young, you can even get away with just using a plastic bag or small tarp.
But if your plant is larger or you want to use a “real” cover, there are a variety of materials to choose from: burlap, canvas, plastic, and even cardboard.
Do some research and find out what works for you. Use as directed. Most covers will have some kind of attachment point- usually a stake or something to hold down the edges.
Be sure to prune your plants first.
Don’t cover it when there’s still foliage and leaves as this can just add to the overall humidity and encourage pests and plant diseases.
You’ll want to water your fuchsia during dormancy, but very little.
Potted fuchsia should only be watered when the soil is near dry- once every 2-3 weeks. Outdoor fuchsia depends on the overall humidity and moisture.
Don’t water if temperatures are near freezing. Only keep the soil barely moist and nothing more. It’s all a balancing act.
No need for plant food
Fuchsia doesn’t need any plant food during this time.
The only things you need to monitor are the water conditions and weather. Avoid applying excess fertilizer because this can lead to pests.
Winterizing fuchsia indoors
When you have no other choice to care for your plants, bring them indoors.
This works best for potted fuchsia but can be done with those grown in the soil.
Though, I highly discourage it because uprooting an established plant and then shoving it into a container for the winter will shock the plant. If your fuchsia is already in the soil, then overwinter it there. If it’s in a pot, then you can bring it inside.
Where to place your plant
Place the container somewhere where the temperatures are cold.
This is critical because you need the plant to enter dormancy. If it’s too warm, this will never happen and will seriously screw up your plant. The trick is to balance the cold, but not to the point where it’ll suffer from frost damage.
Consider placing the pot near an exterior portion of your home, cellar, or garage.
Keep temperatures stable
Somewhere that’s out of the cold but not exposed is ideal.
Use a thermometer and measure the ambient air. It should be around 45F. This is cold enough for fuchsia to go dormant, but not cold enough to harm them.
You should’ve pruned your plant already by this point. If not, then do it. Remove any leaves and blossoms. But keep the stems and branches. That’s about it.
Your home’s interior should provide enough protection to keep the plant warm all winter long. This is the easiest solution for those that are in zones 7 or 8 where winterizing fuchsia outside isn’t an option.
As for watering, you only need to do so once every 2-3 weeks or so.
Keep watering to a minimum. Let the soil go near dry between waterings. Do NOT overwater.
This will make mold and viruses appear out of thin air. Your plant is susceptible at this point, so don’t hurt it by overwatering.
Acclimating fuchsia after winter
After the winter has ended, start by moving it to a sunny window so it can adjust to the spring.
You can start watering as usual at this point and watch for the new blossoms. Give it at least 7 hours of sunlight a day and encourage growth as you normally would.
Bringing it out of dormancy is a process. This should occur about a month before the last frost date. Move it to a sunny windowsill and raise the temperatures.
The branches should be cut back about 50% of their current size.
Although it seems wrong to cut back your fuchsia when spring is here, this helps bring new blossoms.
When the last frost date is confirmed to be over, you can bring the plant back outside under a strict acclimation plan.
Start with partial sunlight in a sheltered area away from drafts and strong winds. Then slowly start providing more and more sunlight over time.
Check the weather
You should be doing this throughout the winter already. Check the weather weekly.
See what’s coming. Notice that a cold snap is coming?
Then get ready for it- lay out some mulch or wrap your plants. Acting quickly will ensure the safety of your fuchsia. It only takes a single night to kill one. These aren’t cold-hardy plants by nature, so help them out!
Note that if you have a true hardy variant, you may be able to get away with dips as low as 10F.
This is always something to consider- especially if you’re in the pacific northwest. This area almost NEEDS a cold tolerate fuchsia to thrive.
Container vs. ground planting
Fuchsia can do just fine whether you decide to plant it in the soil or a container.
The thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to use a pot, you’ll need to water it more often, provide more plant food, and offer more protection during the cold.
Fuchsias that have been planted in the soil need full sun with well-draining soil and a good fertilizer (20-20-20).
Use time-released granules for the best results. Regardless of which path you take, know that these plants need a dormancy period.
You can also get away with 16-16-16 NPK if you don’t have the suggested NPK rating, but this varies more on the species of fuchsia you have. Do some research and see what works for you.
Can you overwinter fuchsia plants?
Fuchsia can be overwintered and preserved for next season.
Most gardeners don’t know this, especially beginner ones who happen to pick up a plant only to throw it out later when it starts to wilt.
The plant is fine. It’s just doing what it’s supposed to do when the cold snap comes.
Do NOT try to keep the plant “awake” during dormancy.
This will lead to very poor plant growth next season and make it prone to pests, bacteria, and fungus. Fuchsia needs a break from producing those pretty blossoms all year long.
Overwintering in a greenhouse
Similar to wintering in plant containers, fuchsia also can be placed inside greenhouses for the winter to keep them cool.
The process is the same, but you’ll want to ensure that ht temperatures hover around 45F so the plant enters dormancy. If the greenhouse produces too much heat, the plant may never go dormant which will result in a weak plant next season.
Keep the temps consistent and maintain regular pest control, watering, and monitoring.
You can keep them in pots or cardboard boxes lined with a few rolls of newspaper to keep them warm. Cover the box and keep the temperatures stable.
Note that paper products can lead to plant mold or fungus.
So don’t overwater. You may also encounter gall mites, which can be controlled with carbaryl spray.
Fuchsia tending in the Pacific Northwest
Fuchsia can be winterized in the pacific northwest with hardy types.
This is zones 7, 8, and 9. They don’t need any additional protection other than basic mulching and possibly plant covers if it’s a true hardy.
These cultivars can handle a minimum temp of 20F. Here’s an excellent list that’s worth checking out that details each and every hardy type.
When does fuchsia grow back?
Fuchsia comes back during the springtime, as it’s a perennial.
This means it doesn’t need to be replanted year after year and you can just use the same plant forever. But most people will toss it out at the first sign of wilting.
Fuchsias bloom in early spring to mid summer, depending on the cultivar.
But hopefully, more people recognize that fuchsias will come back and learn to prepare them correctly so they can these gorgeous plants!
Can they recover from frost damage?
Fuchsia won’t bloom during the winter. That’s normal.
You’ll give up some blooms during the dormancy period, and while it may be painful to snip your plant’s colorful foliage, you should expect that it’ll bloom in the springtime for you enjoy.
The point isn’t to preserve the flowers and blossoms during the cold- they’ll wilt on their own.
Putting your plant into dormancy will help reset the cycle and give them a break. Think of it as “plant sleep.”
For fuchsia to give you those gorgeous blooms, they need to enter this state and get plenty of sunlight during the summer.
Cold tolerate types of fuchsia
There are some hardier fuchsias that are perfect for colder hardiness zones.
Consider doing some research on these cold-hardy types:
- Fuchsia procumbens
- Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae
- Debron’s Black Cherry
Here are some additional resources you may find useful:
- Fuchsia – Wikipedia
- Fuchsia Forum – Houzz
- Fuschia, my newest plant baby. Any tips on keeping it alive? – Reddit
Did you overwinter your plant?
Now that you have everything you need to know about winterizing fuchsias, you should be able to preserve your plants for next season. No more throwing them out!
Treat your plants with TLC and they’ll reward you with blossoms all summer.
Although your plant may look like it’s dead during the winter, it’s just sleeping.
Keep and follow the process and your fuchsia should be ready for flowering next spring.
What method did you use to overwinter them? Did you find any tips to make the process easier? Let us know in the comments below.
I took interest into microflora and microgreens before it became mainstream. The idea of growing an entire ecosystem on a tiny scale simply was astounding. That’s where I discovered that I actually like raising plants and wasn’t as much of a black thumb as I thought. Now, I’m relaying what I’ve learned to others who are getting into the hobby in a way that anyone can understand.