Fuscias are loved for their dangling, bi-colored, and bell-shaped flowers that resemble dancing skirts. The Fuscia flowers last all through the summer and come in thousands of varieties and hues that can come in candy pink, purple, magenta, red, and white. There is even variegated, purple, red-tinged, and even golden foliage.
What are fuscias?
Fuscias hail mostly from South and Central America and are pollinated mainly through hummingbirds. They were discovered by Charles Plumier, the French botanist in the 1700s. he named the flowers after Leonard Fuchs, a renowned German botanist.
- Latin Name: Fuscia
- Other Names: Lantern flowers, bell burgers.
- Native to: Mainly Central and South America.
- Invasiveness: Is most invasive on La Reunion islands in the Indian Ocean.
- Tenderness: Fuscia is of all 3 types, hardy, half-hardy, and frost tender.
- Sun: Generally considered shade plants, but need lots of light to grow and bloom, preferably direct morning sun.
- Water: Should be watered when they dry out.
- Soil: Consistently moist but not soggy with a good ratio of organic matter. Best in solid with a pH level of 6-7.
- Hardiness Zone: 6-10 (USDA)
- When To Plant: Best results in early summer.
- Spacing: Plant in the garden around 12 inches apart, in containers or hanging baskets plant them 4 inches apart.
- Plant Height: From 8 inches to over 13 inches (20 cm to 4 meters).
- Bloom Period: Full bloom from early June to the 1st severe frost of autumn.
- Time To Maturity: Up to seven years.
- Container Friendly: Most varieties grow extremely well in pots.
- Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Toxicity: Fuscia plant is non-toxic.
- Drought Tolerant: Extremely drought tolerant perennial.
- Deer Resistant: Hybrid varieties tempt deer during food scarcity, but are considered deer-resistant.
- Pest Resistant: Grey mold and gall mites can be a problem with some varieties.
How To Grow
Fuscias thrive in fertile, moist but well-drained soil, in a partially shaded or sheltered spot. Fuscia plants can be grown from seeds or clippings. Subject to the variety, plants begin to produce flowers in early and mid-spring. They continue to bloom till fall.
Fuscia plants respond extremely well to pruning in the early stages of the growing season. Trimming old branches encourage fresh branches and blooms to appear. Dead and overlapping branches should be removed.
Once it begins to grow, new buds should be pruned to encourage the growth of both the branches and flowers. Dead flowers should be removed constantly to help new flowers to appear.
Growing In Containers
Though Fuscia plants grow well in their gardens, it also responds positively to planting in pots. But it is important to ensure that the plants are provided the conditions necessary to thrive.
The ideal locations to grow potted Fuscia plants are balconies and patios. Other than light, it is also vital to ensure an equal amount of shade. The containers should be large enough, at least larger than 10 inches.
Be sure to water regularly during the growing season. Feed the plants with liquid manure for around 10 days. Potted plants have limited soil capacity but tend to grow vigorously.
A glazed clay pot is better than a porous one, or with wire baskets lined with moss. Hanging pots should be renewed every two years.
When To Start Fuscia Seeds
Fuscia seeds start forming shortly after the plant starts flowering. And once they blossom, the berries come some after. Thus you can start saving starting in spring, well into the summer months, and even into early fall.
Watch out as the flowers turn dry and brown, or drop off the plants. Then is the time to harvest the berries and save the seeds inside.
When To Plant Fuscia
Fuscia can show best results in early summer, or at least in late summer. But then you will have to water more in the dry weather to allow the Fuscias to establish.
Although Fuscias are generally hardy, at least some varieties are vulnerable to the cold if planted in autumn and tend to get damaged and may not survive the first season.
How To Collect Fuscia Seeds
Growing Fuscia from seeds can be both exciting and fascinating. After the flowers bloom, they should be for seed pods. These berries range in color from purple to dark and light green. The berries should be protected from birds with muslin bags. The bags also help in another way as they catch them if they fall from the plant. The berries are ready to pick if they feel squishy and soft.
Slice them open with a knife and scoop out the tiny seeds. Carefully separate the flesh from the seeds and place them on an absorbing paper towel. Allow them to dry for a day before planting them.
Store them in an airtight container until spring. Growing the plant from seeds generally leads to flowering seedlings in a year. this allows you to cross-pollinate immediately.
How To Propagate Fuscia
Fuscia doesn’t need much encouragement to reproduce. But some varieties are easier to propagate than others. It is extremely easy in all cases as the plant roots rather quickly. You can take the cutting at anytime between spring and fall, though the former is the best time.
Pinch or cut out the young growing tip around 2-4 inches above the 2nd or 3rd pair of leaves. Remove all bottom leaves. You can apply the rooting hormone.
You can then cover the plant with plastic to retain humidity and moisture, to speed up the process of rooting. Feed the plant every other week during active growth and blooming using a half-strength balanced fertilizer.
How To Get Fuscia To Bloom
You should pinch the Fuscia plant regularly throughout the summer months to ensure it continues producing flowers. Pinching Fuscia is quite easy as literally pinching or cutting the end quarter to half of the branch. Flowering normally begins within 6 weeks of such pinching. Cutting back branches to the strong node also helps in the bloom.
Wildlife Attracted By Fuscia
One of Fuscia’s claims to fame is its ability to attract butterflies, moths, and bees. It is also a food for caterpillars and also attracts the bees with its nectar, pollen-rich flowers.
Fuscia plants are prone to several viral diseases that include impatiens necrotic spot virus and tomato spotted wilt. Symptoms include stunted growth and curled and spotted leaves. Thrips spread both these viral diseases. They dig deep into the buds, blossoms, and other areas that are difficult to reach.