The kindest cut….

… is one made with the sharpest blade.  In his talk to the Surrey Plant Heritage group this week, John Paulding of the British Fuchsia Society likened the time taken to heal an injury to the relative speed with which a surgical wound repairs itself.  So always use a sharp knife when taking cuttings – John uses disposable craft blades.

By looking at the geography of the locations where the Fuchsia is native, a list of needs were coaxed from the audience.
Good drainage
Dappled/partial shade
Humidity and warmth
Buoyant moving air
Feeding (provided by the leaf litter of the cloud forest)

John added a little TLC to the mix, and with these conditions, Fuchsia will thrive.

Cuttings can be taken at any time of year, although the soft tissue in Spring is full of auxins and so there is a greater chance of them taking.  Heel cuttings are best in the Autumn, soft cuttings are more likely to rot off.  Water the parent plant well 24 hours before taking the cutting which is best done in the cool of the morning.  Choose a non-flowering shoot, which is another advantage of doing this in the Spring.  Use a well-drained compost so that there are air pockets for the oxygen needed by the new roots.  There is a fascinating article in the new Plant Heritage Journal (page 30) on drainage – well worth reading to understand how to improve the aeration in pots.

John makes terrariums for his cuttings using 5 litre plastic bottles.  By cutting around three sides of the end of the bottle a small propagating environment can be created. After a couple of  weeks, ideally with a little bottom heat, when the cuttings are starting to take, remove the lid to increase the ventilation.  In order to avoid disturbance of cuttings yet to root, John suggested using individual cells within a tray.  Although they are a little fiddly to make – by cutting one tray into holders and cells, the end result means that rooted cuttings can be potted on without disturbing the others in the batch.

Dip the cuttings into a 5% solution of household bleach or fungicide, do not pinch out the tips until the cutting is rooted and don’t forget to label.

Three or four times a year, John waters or sprays his plants with a mixture of 1 tsp Jeyes Fluid and 1 tbsp of Maxicrop original seaweed feed in two gallons of cold water and he uses diluted Stergene to get rid of pests.  Plants shown in the slide show obviously relished this regime.  Fuchsia ‘Genii’ is John’s number 1 hardy architectural plant.