Although rarely seen nowadays, one would imagine that the severest challenge in growing fuchsias is to produce a pyramid similar to those cultivated during the latter stages of the nineteenth century. These magnificent specimens ranged from 8’ – 10’ high (a sample can be viewed on the James Lye page) and transported to various shows by horse and cart. They were usually produced over a period of two years, but their average life span was four to five years, after which they tended to deteriorate.
To begin with it requires a very strong variety of fuchsia combined with infinite patience to attempt the possibility of producing a pyramid. An old print showing how to prune a fuchsia plant into the basic shape of a pyramid will no doubt be useful to those who have never attempted to grow one before (see below).
The plant is grown to a height of 9” – 10”, when it is stopped. From the resulting break, the best top shoot is allowed to grow to form the replacement leader. A cane is placed in the centre of the pot. In the process of growing, the plant will no doubt require several canes, each one of increasing height. Remember not to tie the main stem to the cane too tight. The replacement canes are placed in the same hole as the preceding one to prevent unnecessary damage to the roots. Next, select four growths at reasonable equal distance around the main stem. These will form the lower tier of branches, any other growths are removed.
When the side shoots have produced about three pairs of leaves, they are then stopped. When their back buds show signs of breaking, the main leader is again stopped and from this second stopping a new leader is chosen and four of the lower breaks for the second tier of branches. The objective is to produce a plant with well furnished but not overcrowded side branches all emanating from the main stem.
The procedure of stopping and selecting a new leader is repeated until the desired height is attained. Remember to stop side branches and leader alternatively enabling the side branches to be stopped at the same time. Never let them become overcrowded by removing any that are unnecessary.
Always turn the plant frequently so that all side shoots obtain equal light. Try to keep the plant from being crowded in by other plants. Repot as often as needed to prevent the plant from becoming ‘pot bound’.