Plants that have been grown in greenhouses for more than a century, and a favorite with all. There are a great many species, mostly all from South America, but the true species are now seldom seen. The hybrid varieties are those of the commercial florists, and firms that make a specialty of soft-wooded plants are continually sending out new varieties. Many of my readers will remember old Fuchsia fulgens, with its clustered raceme of flowers at the end of the shoots; and many are also acquainted with F. macrostema; both true species, but very unlike.
In the milder parts of Great Britain you will see such varieties as Rose of Castile trained up the front of verandas as we do clematis, showing that they withstand a good freezing, and many of the species are treated as hardy shrubs, the winter killing the tops, but the plant makes a strong growth again in the spring, just as our basket willows are cut down and an annual growth is made. Where the thermometer does not go below 15 degrees these species will winter very well. We treat the fuchsia as a very short-lived plant, seldom growing the plant more than one year, but in its native Andes it is a shrub, or even small tree.
With us fuchsias are often used for summer bedding, but they never can be any part of a formal flower garden because they would conform with no other beds. Nor will they thrive in the broad sun. Behind buildings or hedges or where they will get only the morning sun, and where they are no part of any design, they make very pleasing beds. The soil should be deep and rich and where the hose can reach them a number of varieties can be used; one-year-old plants are always better for this purpose than the spring struck plants. Plants that have been wintered almost dormant and bedded out in early May before they are started will be much surer of success than plants out of a warm greenhouse.
Thousands of fuchsias are sold in our cities during April and May and used up among the class of people who want a few plants for their window. Plants for propagating from should be selected or obtained in the spring, not later than May, and grown on carefully. By July they should be at then best. In July these plants should be plunged outside in the sun, or only partial shade. They will grow very little more, but will ripen their wood. Leave them out of doors till after the first very slight frost. By that time (say middle of October) the shoots will be ripe and the leaves off. Bring them in and for two weeks they can stand in a cool shed, or be laid under a bench.
By about November 1 shorten back the lateral growths to firm, ripe wood and start them in a house at 55 to 60 degrees. Syringe daily. Soon you will see signs of new growth, when they should be shaken out and repotted in fresh soil and in two or three weeks you will get your first batch of cuttings, and successive lots to the following February. That is as late as you can propagate fuchsias and make plants that are any good that summer. Few cuttings root more freely than fuchsias. With the sand at 70 and the atmosphere at 55 you will root just five-score for every 100 cuttings you put in.
Fuchsias when grown in pots want a very rich soil; two parts loam, one part rotten manure and one part leaf-mold will grow them finely. Pot fairly firm, but not as solid as you would with geraniums. Fifty to 55 degrees at night is about right. An abundance of water, daily syringing and a shade from the hottest suns in April and May is the treatment.
Most of our fuchsias are sold in 4-inch and 5-inch pots. From the cutting bed to a 2 1/2-inch and from that to a 4-inch and from that to a 5-inch. With some varieties (such a one was old Elm City) they were allowed to go straight up and the plant formed a most symmetrical pyramid shape, but few of the varieties will do that, and they are generally pinched when a few inches high, which gives them two or three leading shoots and makes a more compact plant. Some varieties can be stopped the second time, which makes them fine little bushes.
In selecting varieties see that they are good growers and of a good habit; that is everything. Kaisers of new varieties have produced some enormous double flowers, both white and purple or red corollas, but the plants are not good. Broadly it may be said that in producing the double corolla you have added nothing to the beauty of the fuchsia. Many of the single varieties have the most grace and beauty and are usually the finest growers.
Plants that are wanted for outside beds should be wintered over in pots in a very cool, light cellar or cool house and given only water enough to keep them from shriveling. Large specimens that are wanted for summer use are also wintered very cool, shortened back in the spring, mulched or shifted and started growing slowly. Our hot summers are against fuchsias.
Varieties are innumerable. Mr. E. G. Hill, of Richmond, Ind., and others import yearly all the newer varieties and test their merits for our climate.
A leading establishment describes the following:
Cervantes, purple corolla, crimson sepals.
Phenomenal, dark plum color, great size.
Mme. Thibaut, white corolla, crimson sepals.
Molesworth, white corolla, crimson sepals.
Storm King, white corolla, scarlet sepals.
Pres. Carnot, mauve corolla, crimson sepals.
Annie Earle, carmine corolla, white sepals.
Beacon, carmine corolla, scarlet sepals.
Brilliant, scarlet corolla, white sepals.
Earl of Beasonsfield, orange corolla and sepals.
Mrs. Marshall, carmine corolla, white sepals.
Speciosa, orange scarlet corolla, white sepals; an old but standard variety and one of the very best for use in veranda-boxes or beds.
Black Prince, corolla and sepals carmine. This is a grand market variety; the best of growers, fine habit, and a profuse bloomer.
Standing Wreath of American Beauty Roses.
Fuchsias should be used in vases and veranda boxes only where the sun reaches them for but a few hours during the day. They may look attractive when first put in a vase, but are soon leafless stains without shade ana plenty of water.