There are two ways to get started:
- Purchase a “whip” or baby standard
- Take your cutting.
The advantage of purchasing a whip is that you will already have a strong fuchsia plant grown from a particularly good variety when grown as a standard. The advantage to taking your cutting is that you can make a standard from any variety of your choosing – plus, you know you have done all the work yourself. I recommend starting with a whip if you have not tried growing a standard before.
Either way, you start; the important thing to remember is that you must protect the growing tip until the whip has reached the desired height. Once a fuchsia cutting has rooted, the usual procedure is to ‘pinch out’ the axial or growing tip to encourage bushy development. Avoid doing this when growing for a standard. If the axial tip is left on the fuchsia plant, all of the fuchsia’s energy will go to one tip, and it will shoot upwards.
As the fuchsia grows up, support it with a split cane, tied in loosely with twist ties – do not tie too tight as the stem will thicken and can become strangled against the cane leading to distorted growth.
Check the split cane regularly and tie in to avoid flopping as the fuchsia plant grows up. Also, it’s important to remove any side shoots that may start to form. However, do not remove the large leaves from the main stem straight out. These leaves, as they grow, will provide food for the axial tip and will drop off naturally when they are ready. However, you must remove any flower buds should they begin to form, as this will be taking away vital energy. Do not remove the flower buds until the tip has grown out past them, as otherwise, there is a danger that the tip could be removed as well.
Whips are usually for sale, supported by split canes in 10 cm pots. Once the whip has reached the top of the cane, it is time to repot and provide a larger bamboo cane for stability.
As the whip reaches the desired height, be mindful about removing the side shoots. It’s best to leave about three sets of side shoots at the point where you remove the axial tip. These side shoots will be the basis for the head of the standard.
Once you have removed the tip, allow the side shoots to grow out and then pinch them out to start the head forming. The principle is then the same as promoting bushy growth in a plant grown as a shrub, pinch out the side shoot tips every two to three breaks until the head is formed, then allow flowers to form.
Don’t forget to allow up to eight weeks for single flowers, ten weeks for double flowers or 12 weeks for triphylla flowers. Once the head forms, the “whip” is now a standard.