Fuchsia plants can be a very beautiful addition to any indoor or outdoor garden, but in order to keep them looking their best, they need to be pruned regularly. Gardeners recommend pruning fuchsia at least once a year, but preferably twice, in the fall and spring. The perfect way to prune fuchsia may also depend upon the type, shape, and size of the plant. The ultimate goal of pruning fuchsia is to trim away old growth and dead branches in order encourage new growth and lots of flowers.
There are more than 100 species of fuchsia and even more varieties of hybrids. Gardeners grow fuchsia in flowerpots, as hanging plants, as garden bushes, and even as trees. The proper method of pruning fuchsia often depends upon the shape and style of the plant as well as how tall or wide an individual wishes it to be.
Ideally, fuchsia should be pruned in mid to late autumn before the cold weather settles in. This, of course, varies depending upon where a person lives. The first step in pruning fuchsia of any type is for all dead leaves and dried out branches to be trimmed off. For this process, gardeners prefer a smaller, handheld shears as it is easier to reach inside the plant to access interior branches that might need to be removed.
To encourage the most growth when pruning fuchsia, gardeners suggest that the stems be cut at least 0.25 inches (about 0.6 cm) above the leaf axil. The leaf axil is the area where the leaves grow from the stem. In the autumn months, when most of the leaves have fallen, the spot is usually represented by two or three thick bumps on the stem.
If the fuchsia that is being pruned is planted in the ground, the ground cover around the roots should also be cleared away and any low-hanging branches trimmed to about 6 inches (about 15 cm) from the ground. This helps the roots to better absorb nutrients from the soil and deters pests like spider mites. Some gardeners prefer their plants to be bushy. To encourage a fuchsia plant to take on a bushy shape, most plant experts recommend that new growth be stopped in early spring when the branches have sprouted at least three new pairs of leaves. The tips of the new growth should be cut back about 0.50 to 0.75 of an inch (about 1.27 to 1.9 cm) in order to allow the branches to grow outward instead of upward.
When pruning fuchsia plants that are in a pot, many gardeners recommend that the roots be trimmed as well. To do this, they gently lift the plant from the pot by the thick, lower stem and lay it on its side. Then, gardeners use a sharp knife to shave a thin layer from the very bottom and to score the bound roots along the sides. This encourages fresh root growth and prevent the roots from choking themselves. Before returning the plant to its pot, most experts recommend spreading a shallow layer of stone for drainage along with a fresh layer of potting soil into the bottom of the pot.
As an additional tip when pruning fuchsia, it is suggested that the clippings not be thrown away. Rather, gardeners propagate new plants from fresh-cut clippings as long as the branch that was removed is not dead. In this way, plant lovers can grow additional fuchsia for their own enjoyment or to give to their family and friends.