Glorious Fuchsias in Australia

The Growing of Fuchsias in Australia

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 The Glorious Fuchsia in Australia


NEW Pot glows red to show your plant is in trouble.


This story was printed in the London Daily Telegraph by the Daily Telegraph Reporter on 29 July,2010.


“A Student has invented a plant pot that lights up whenever the plant needs water.  The “Tulipe” pot glows red whenever the plant is in danger of getting too hot, too cold, too light, too dark or too dry. It was designed by Natalie King,22 who wanted to help her partially sighted grandfather continue his love of gardening. She dedicated her University final project to solving the problem, finally coming up with the innovative light-up design.


As well as assisting those with poor eyesight, the pot will also be useful for many gardeners who may need to keep their plants alive. The pot contains three sensors in the base, which detect levels of moisture, temperature and light. If they fall below the optimum levels, the base will change from green to red and vibrate when it is picked up. The prototype, which took eight months to complete, was tested by Miss King’s friends and family before being submitted.


Miss King said the smart pot had been designed to grow any indoor plant from seed and the concept could be tweaked to suit the requirements of some larger plants. She is now looking for an investor to enable her product to be mass-produced and sold on the open market.


Miss King, from Callington, Cornwall, said: My grandfather had always been a keen gardener but he suffers from something  called age-related  macular degeneration, which reduces his central vision.  Miss King’s plant pot helped her graduate from her Industrial Design course at Brunel University in Uxbridge, Middlesex, with a first class honours degree. She is now working  in a graduate job as a designer with Channel in London.”


In this busy world of to-day this pot may have appeal to those who love growing plants but do not have the time to care for them, however if it does get to the open market a good name for it may be “The Plant Care Alarm Clock”


It is always good to see what is new in the garden world.

The Fuchsia – A Brief History by Cedric Bryant

Fuchsias grow in their native state in only two areas of the world: in South America ranging from Mexico to Tierra Del Fuego, and in New Zealand. Many of the fuchsias grow where the Aztecs of Mexico and Incas of Peru had their great civilizations. In fact, from the Incas come such vegetables as tomatoes, potatoes (both standard and sweet) and several varieties of beans.

There are between 90 and 100 species of fuchsias growing in South America and six species in New Zealand. Thor Heyerdahl of "KonTiki" fame sailed a balsa-wood raft from Peru to Polynesia to prove these islanders and the Maoris originally came from South America. It is more than a coincidence that fuchsias appear only in New Zealand outside South America.

In the early 1700s migrants were going to the new world, but one of the biggest problems was malaria. Many famous botanists were trying to find a cure and especially look for the Cinchona tree. This provides quinine. One of these botanists was also a missionary, Father Charles Plumier. Whilst near San Dominigo he found a plant which he called Fuchsia Triphylla Flore Coccinnea. He named this after Leonhart Fuchs, who lived from 1501-1566. Fuchs occupied the chair of Medicine at Tubingen. Father Plumier was greatly influenced by Fuch's work, especially in herbal remedies.

Many interesting and varied stories cover  the introduction of fuchsias initially to England. Evidently a Captain Firth presented a species to Kew Gardens in London in 1788. It is on record that the first fuchsias were sold from 10 – 20 guineas. The English and French vied with each other in the early 1800s in hybridizing with the first double flower being developed in 1850.  The Victorian gardeners loved their fuchsias. The early settlers from England brought their fuchsias at the old stone Gold Store in Beechworth, Victoria dating back 100 years. They were twenty feet tall with trunks 5-6 inches thick. Also at one of the original bank buildings in Gundagai are fuchsias of a similar age.

Most recent developments have taken place with the American Fuchsia Society and the British Fuchsia Society (founded in 1938). The fuchsia has really been coming into its own of recent years with people realising more and more both the beauty of the flowers, and how easy they are to grow. The British Fuchsia Society has listed over 5,000 variations ranging in colours from pure whites to orange, lavender, bright reds and deep purples. There is no limit to the varieties and colours available for growing in the garden, in pots or in baskets.

Questions and Answers:

Q.    Where will they grow?

A.    Almost anywhere, but one or two requirements are essential. For example, they do require a shady position (70%), preferably getting the morning sun. Avoid that direct hot afternoon western sun. They are ideal in bush houses or a covered verandah. they look wonderful in baskets hung underneath shady trees.

Q.    What about soil?

A.    1. For pots, a loose well draining mix is the ideal. As with most pot plants I recommend one-third soil (good loam), one-third coarse river sand and one-third peat moss. Do not fill the pot right to the top with soil, leave at least an inch for watering.

        2. In the garden a well drained bed that has some good compost or rotted leaves well dug in. Please don't leave those leaves on the footpath or cart them to the tip – rot them down in the garden.

Q.   Do I prune them back in the autumn or winter?

A.    Definitely No. The only time to prune fuchsias is in the spring when the first green shoots appear (usually September). Much valuable nutrient in the stems will be lost if you prune in the winter. This nutrient supplements food taken in through the root system and is important to their winter survival.

Q.   How often do I water fuchsias?

A     .In pots in summer, daily, especially with some of  the hot dry winds we get in Canberra. But don't forget good drainage is essential. A frequent fine overhead mist is very beneficial in really hot weather. This goes for everything in the garden naturally. In pots during the winter period water about once a week, just to keep the soil slightly damp. If the plants are overwintered or normally kept in a heated glasshouse, this winter watering will need to be more often.

Q.    What pest and diseases affect fuchsias?

A.    There are no known virus diseases. The main problems are the old garden pests such as aphids, whitefly and red spider. These can be readily cleared up with a proprietary systemic spray (Confidor). Vary the sprays so they do not build up an immunity. Pyrethrum sprays can be used, this being harmless to humans. If rust appears on any of the leaves Benlate (or Mancozeb) is ideal. Often the brown withered patches on the leaves is mistaken as rust, where it is usually sun burn caused by watering in the heat of the day. Those droplets of water on the leaves act the same as a magnifying glass.

A special warning:  please be careful with sprays. Use only quantities as directed by the manufacturer. Wear rubber gloves and suitable protective clothing when handling sprays and thoroughly shower when spraying is completed. It is no good having pest free fuchsias and not being around to enjoy them.

Q.   Do I need fertiliser, and what type?

A.    A water soluble powder type balanced fertiliser is ideal – such as Aquasol, Thrive, Zest, etc. Never apply to  dry soil – always make sure the soil is damp first and thoroughly mix the powder with the water. Also I use Maxicrop seaweed fertiliser – this has all the trace elements in it.

In summary a few brief hints:

  1. Always remove dead flowers and do not let seed pods develop. This encourages new flower growth.

  2. Fuchsias can be trained into almost any shape.

  3. Do not be in a hurry to put plants into too large a pot – increase pot size slowly as roots get well developed.

  4. Do not carry fuchsias in the hot boot of your car, but preferably in the back of the car, and only for as short a period as possible.

  5. If branches get overlong they may break with the weight of the flowers. It is better to cut halfway back and lose a few flowers. This will also help to develop a bushier growth.

  6. Remember from the time you pinch out (or stop) shoots it is usually 6-8 weeks before the first flowers are produced. So if you want flowers for mid-January the last pinching out should be done in mid to late November.

  7. The usual flowering time is from November to the first frosts in April/May (unless you have a heated glasshouse).


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