Want fuchsias for free? Find the perfect moment to take cuttings

Tender and hardy fuchsias have different needs. Will yours make the cut?

If you want flowers that offer bang for your buck, then fuchsias are a must have. These generous plants provide delicately ornate petalled pendants almost continuously from the warmest months right through to early frosty evenings. And they can be propagated too, so you can spread the wealth even further.  

But success relies on knowing when to take fuchsia cuttings, as different varieties need to be snipped at different times of year. Fuchsias can thrive in a raised bed garden, low-maintenance borders, window boxes and hanging baskets (depending on the variety).

Tender and hardy fuchsias prefer to be cut at different times of yearCredit: Shutterstock / Vitalinka
Tender and hardy fuchsias prefer to be cut at different times of year

No matter what your outside space looks like, you can recreate the same cultivar of your favourite fuchsia by propagating via cutting (rather than growing from seed, which might result in a different type). But getting the timing right is everything.  

We explain the best times to take cuttings from your fuchsias – with tips on how to do so successfully.

Hardy and tender fuchsias – what’s the difference?

We love hardy fuchsias. They’re generally an easy-going, reliable plant that (like most of us) can tolerate the unpredictable UK winter outside. Keep them happy with regular watering in well-drained soil – and they’ll flower in sun or light shade. They’ll need shelter from cold winds, but otherwise will happily produce pairs of intricate, dancing flowers. Though they tend to grow upright (with some types creating excellent shrub forms), more compact varieties are perfectly comfortable in smaller containers.  

If you aren’t sure what type you have, and if you can’t find the label, then hardier fuchsias tend to form upright, growth and be woodier and shrub-like, with thick stems up to 2cm (1in) thick. 

They might look like hardy fuchsias, but when working out their nature, the clue is in the name. These plants are more delicate than hardy types, and generally won’t survive frosts without being brought inside for shelter. Tender types are a bit fussy – they prefer well-drained soil (but not too dry and not too wet). Don’t expect them to flower in full shade, either.  

Tender fuchsias have a laxer growing habit than hardier types. They are smaller and have softer, thinner stems. 

When to take fuchsia cuttings from hardy plants

A perfect autumn task

The sun might have set on summer in October, but there’s still time to take fuchsia cuttings for successful propagation.  

“Hardwood cuttings from hardy fuchsia plants should be taken in late autumn, from around mid-October into November,” explains Fiona Northover from Karen McClure Garden Design.   

Gardener Kevin Line, writing for the Hardy Plant Society, agrees, saying though hardy perennial fuchsias “will strike well from greenwood cuttings taken in the summer… from my own experiences, I have had a higher success rate taking cuttings in late autumn/early winter.” 

Greenwood refers to cuttings taken when the base of the stem is firmer, as it’s had longer to mature. Hardwood cuttings are taken when the plant is dormant – often as winter approaches. These dormant cuttings will form hard calluses in the soil over winter, and it’s this surface that roots will spring from when it’s in its growing phase.  

Top tips for propagating hardy fuchsias

Northover has shared some expert insight from the team at Karen McClure Garden Design, which will help ensure any cuttings taken will survive the winter: 

  • “It is best to take stems that are not green and are instead covered in brown bark [hardwood] for protection against rot that might set in over winter. 
  • “Cut lengths of the woody stem that are around the length of a pencil.   
  • “Cut at the base horizontally, just below a pair of leaves, and trim at the top, making a sloping cut so that you can tell the top from the bottom! 
  • “Fill a container with peat-free cutting compost, or potting mix (the container should be large enough to place around five cuttings around the edge of the pot) – in our experience rooting powder isn’t necessary, but you can use if you wish.
  • “Ensure around half the length of the cutting is below the surface of compost.
  • “We recommend you keep them in a spot that will be free from frost and water them only to keep the soil moist.
  • “If you do not have a propagator, you can use a plastic bag over the container, sealed with an elastic band to keep in the warmth and humidity.
  • “You should expect to see some new shoots in the spring, when you can then pot your cuttings into their own containers.
  • “Hardy fuchsias hate to be moved! So, when deciding where to plant out, ensure it’s in a ‘forever’ spot or where they are unlikely to outgrow the space.” 

Some favourite hardy fuchsias

If you’re keen to try taking your own cuttings, the Karen McClure team has some tips on favourite hardy fuchsias: Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ – a beautiful and versatile variety with great upright habit and a dramatic pink and aubergine colour, and Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead’ – with slender, greentipped white flowers.”  

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When to take fuchsia cuttings from tender plants

Cuttings can be taken at any time of year

Unlike their hardy cousins, tender fuchsia cuttings are less reliant on the seasonal calendar. 

“Tender fuchsias can be propagated any time of the year,” says Northover. “But they will root fastest in spring and summer.” 

She adds that semi-ripe cuttings (when the base of the new growth has started to turn a bit woody) can also successfully be taken from midsummer to early autumn. 

“You can propagate tender fuchsias in water as well as in growing medium successfully – just be sure not to let the leaves sit in the water!” Northover notes. “They can root in as little as 20 days.” 

Top tips for taking tender fuchsia cuttings

You should treat your freshly taken tender fuchsia cuttings as you would any tender perennial. 

“Make sure you have a drainage hole in the pot – if the cutting is sitting in water, it will likely rot!” warns Northover. She adds: “If using multi-purpose compost for your cuttings, ensure you mix in some horticultural grit to aid drainage.” 

“Make sure you choose healthy stems when selecting and ensure your cut is made cleanly with a sterilised knife to avoid any cross contamination of disease,” adds Northover. 

If you’d prefer to use a pair of secateurs instead of a knife, then do so, as long as they are sharp, so as not to damage the plant in the process. Find out how to sharpen secateurs with our guide, to ensure you make the healthiest cut to your fuchsias. (And don’t forget to wear gardening gloves when handling sharp blades.) 

Are you a fan of fuchsias? 

If fuchsias have always fascinated you, then why not join a likeminded community of enthusiasts? Members of The British Fuchsia Society can access advice on all aspects of fuchsia cultivation, as well as take part in its annual free cutting distribution scheme (among other benefits).  

Rosanna Spence

Written by Rosanna Spence she/her

Published:

Rosanna Spence has been a journalist for nearly 10 years, reporting on a huge array of topics – from microwaves to cocktails, sustainable buildings, the Caribbean islands and beyond. She’s interviewed chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants and chatted to countless CEOs about their businesses, as well as created travel guides for experienced travellers seeking life-changing adventures. Throughout her career, she has created content for Business Traveller, i-escape.com, Pub & Bar, BRITA, Dine Out and many more leading titles and brands.

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