For best results, only use one fuchsia variety in a basket. Most varieties mature and flower at different rates leading to a rambling display. If you want to break up the fuchsias, using something different as a foil for the fuchsias is better.

Whichever route you take, ensure that the fuchsia you choose has a naturally lax environment.

It is best to start early in the new year with planting your baskets. Use fuchsia plants grown from autumn cuttings grown into three and a half-inch or nine cm pots.

You will need five plants for a 12 inch or 30 cm diameter basket. Odd numbers of fuchsias generally give a better shape to a finished basket.

When planting the fuchsia hanging basket, rest it on a bucket or similar to provide support. Keep the basket in a protected area such as a heated greenhouse or garage until all risk of frost has passed.

It is best left on the bench. If you leave it on a bench, the plant will not dry out so fast, and it will be easily accessible for pinching out to promote bushy growth in the growing season.

Expect it to dry out faster once your basket is hung out into its summer position. The additional air circulating the pot will cause the compost to dry out fast.

Check the baskets daily. And during the summer months, check them twice a day. Another consideration is that the extra watering baskets above pots or plants in borders make them more susceptible to leaching out of vital nutrients and may require feeding more often during the flowering season.

Although baskets do require extra watering, one word of warning still ensures adequate drainage. You do not want the basket soaking as the roots can rot away.

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What pests and diseases affect fuchsia plants?

Fortunately, there are not many diseases and pests which attack fuchsias. Nevertheless, it’s important to stay alert. If you act as soon as you spot a problem, you can prevent larger problems.

Whitefly – Probably the most common problem for fuchsias. If you see one whitefly assume there are many more. The best approach is to act quickly. These pests can multiply with extraordinary speed.

You can use wet sprays when there are no flowers on the fuchsias. Any commercially available whitefly spray used at the correct dilution should be effective. But check the label to ensure it is safe for fuchsia plants.

The only disadvantage to spraying is that it will only kill adult whiteflies. Therefore regular sprays at intervals of twice a week will be necessary until the issues have been resolved.

If the fuchsias are heavily in bud or flower, wet spraying will mark the flowers. Then it will be necessary to use a fumigation product. These tend to be more expensive and will only kill the adults, so be prepared to carry out the treatment more than once.

A preventative form of treatment can be the use of an insecticide. It breaks the whitefly’s life cycle; therefore, one dose early in the season when the plants are growing vigorously usually provides season-long protection. Provado is available from most garden center outlets.

Botrytis – Also known as “damping off,” this disease is characterized by grey mold. All factors are overcrowding, overwatering, poor air circulation, or leaving old leaf litter lying around. The plant is rotting. Addressing all of the above challenges will usually affect a cure. In severe cases, a dose of fungicide may help matters along.

Red Spider Mite – Not a spider at all, but certainly one of the worst pests to attack fuchsias. The main issue with red spider mite is that they are impossible to detect until a problem develops. The symptoms are leaves turning very brittle and bronzy. Once this happens, act quickly.

Isolate the infected plant as the red spider can spread with remarkable speed. Pick off the leaves and throw them in the trash bin. Don’t put the leaves on the compost heap to avoid spreading.

Treat the plant with a good-quality proprietary spray and leave it isolated until fresh growth returns and it is over the attack.

After an attack, all the fuchsias in the greenhouse should be sprayed as a preventative measure. Be careful if heavily in flower as it can cause marking.

Red spider mite thrives in hot and dry conditions. So, keeping the humidity up in the greenhouse should offer some protection.

Vine Weevil – Probably the most publicized fuchsia pest at present. Early symptoms are notches appearing on the leaves. Later symptoms are plants just keeling over. This happens due to the root system having been eaten by the larval grubs.

Many companies are working on providing an answer to this problem. Provado can be used as a drench through the compost in pots. This sterilizes any eggs that may have been laid.

If you suspect vine weevil infection check each pot carefully. Knock the pot off gently, and the grubs can usually be seen in the compost at the side of the rootball. Remove and crush the grub and drench the pot with Provado, freely available in most garden centers.

Yellowing leaves – Not a disease at all. It can be caused by simple old age, overwatering or underfeeding. The latter two can easily be remedied. If it is old age, take cuttings to rejuvenate stock and throw the old plant away.

Rust – Although this disease will not kill a fuchsia plant, it is extremely contagious and very disfiguring. At first, you might notice a yellowing patch on the upper area of the leaf. When you turn the leaf over, look for bright orange spores.

Carefully remove all infected leaves. Because the spores spread in the air, careful removal will go a long way to preventing contagion. Again throw the leaves away. And keep them out of your compost. This is important because the spores can live in the compost and remain dormant.

After every infected leaf is removed, scrape off the top surface of the soil in the pot and replace it with fresh compost.

The best remedy is to spray with a reliable fungicide. Regular spraying early in the season will protect throughout the summer. Rust thrives in areas with poor air circulation. If you continue to get this issue under control, the best approach is to temporarily thin out your fuchsia collection until the rust is eradicated.

Unfortunately for amateur growers, many of the tried and trusted favorites in the fight with rust have been removed from the shelves recently. However, we have received reports from many of our customers that Fungus Fighter, a new organic spray, is proving to be very effective.