This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The majority of Fuchsias ripen seed freely; but, unless they are hybridized, it is almost waste of time to sow it, for the flowers so produced are seldom equal to the parent plant. The operation of fertilizing is easily performed on the Fuchsia, the pistil being prominent, and the pollen plentiful. In selecting plants for hybridizing, it is necessary to bear in mind that those bearing the seed will communicate their habit to the seedlings, although the plants from which the pollen is taken may be of indifferent habits, provided the flowers have good properties. Having selected the flowers intended to be fertilized, cut out their stamens as soon as they open, and, when they are fully expanded, apply the pollen from those flowers the properties of which you wish to impart; tie something round them to distinguish them from the others, and, when they are ripe, the seeds may be separated from the pulp by washing them out in clear water; the good seed will sink to the bottom.
The seed may be sown in spring, in a pot of light soil, and placed in a greenhouse; they do not require much heat to vegetate them; at least I have found them come up quite as well, if not better, without it, and the plants so produced are much stronger than those raised in a higher temperature. As soon as they are of size to handle nicely, pot them singly in small pots, and place them in a light, airy situation: if they are grown in a close atmosphere, it tends to draw them out weak and lanky, so that the true habit of the plant is not seen. Shift them into larger pots when necessary; a 4 or 6-inch pot will be large enough,as large shifts only tend to keep them growing, and retard their flowering: they should never be topped or pruned until they flower. The principal object is to mature their growth quickly, so that the flowers may be seen as soon as possible. Many of them will bloom the same season. After they have done growing, and the foliage drops off, they should be sparingly watered, and be kept almost dry all winter. The following spring, water them freely, and, when they show signs of growth, place them where they will have plenty of air and light, but do not shift them until they flower, for reasons before mentioned.
I prefer flowering seedlings out of doors, after all danger of frost is past, as I have invariably found that the colors come brighter and more distinct than when kept in the house. It is desirable, however, to choose a situation where they will be somewhat shaded from the sun in the hottest part of the day.
The Fuchsia is not very particular as to soil; any good garden mold will suit the plants well enough, provided it is of a free, porous texture, and the pots well drained. Many of the strong growing sorts are frequently destroyed by being put into large pots in a rich soil. This is often the reason why serratifolia, fulgens, corymbiflora, and some other sorts are shy in flowering. I once potted two plants of serratifolia, the one in rich turfy loam and dung, the other in a poor worn-out soil, mixed with a few pieces of broken bricks; the consequence was, that the former grew most luxuriantly, and showed no flowers at all till late in the fall, whereas the other made a very short growth, and flowered profusely the greater part of the season. The less robust varieties do better when planted in good loam, with about a third part of well-decomposed manure. - W. S., in the Florist.
Fuchsias are readily grown from seed, and usually vary widely from the original stock. The seed pods should be allowed to remain on the plant until they fall off; then lay them aside for a few days, or until they begin to decay. The seed may then be washed from the pulp and spread upon paper to dry. They may be sown immediately, or kept for a few months in paper bags. Sow the seeds in fine, sifted soil composed of leaf mould and sand, covering not more than an eighth of an inch deep; sprinkle the soil with water, being careful not to wash away the seed; then place the pots or boxes containing them in a warm place, giving water as required. When tho seedlings are large enough to handle, pot off singly into small thumb pots. As the plants become large and strong, shift into larger pots. - Rural New Yorker.