Training a Fuchsia Standard Tree

A Fuchsia standard is an outstanding tree when displayed in your container garden. I should explain that standard is the horticultural term for any non-tree plant that is trained to grow as a tree. As a guideline, it takes at least 18 months to bring a standard to maturity.

While this is not a difficult process, it does take patience to complete this project, but you will find it is well worth the time and effort when everyone is oohing and aahing over your fuchsia standard.

This is a fun project, and once you have a beautiful fuchsia tree, you may find the process addicting and proceed to train other standards, such as geranuim, roses, and hibiscus. These plants are spectacular grown in containers when placed around your patio, deck, or pool.

If you think you would like to try this process, watch the video on how to train a fuchsia standard and follow the directions below to start growing your fuchsia standard:

There are 2 types of fuchsia plants, trailing and upright. An upright fuchsia will produce a pleasing shrub or bush, while the trailing plant will produce a tree similar in shape to an umbrella.

Spring is the ideal time to start training a standard. You should start with a straight rooted cutting that does not have the top pinched off. A 3 leaf cutting is ideal as this will product a larger head than a 2 leaf cutting. Do not pinch off the top of the cutting.

For information on how to take and root cuttings, check out Plant Propagting Techniques. For quicker results you can purchase an upright variety of Fuchsia. Visit “The Earthworks” to see a huge variety of upright fuchsias.

As you will be training this plant into a tree, you want to make your stem to be as straight as possible. Plant the cutting in an individual pot. Place a straight stake next to the cutting. As the plant grows, tie the stem to the stake every 2-4″. Use a soft material such as old nylons, soft string or nursery ties in order not to cut into the stem. The ties should be firm enough to hold the plant, but not so tight as to constrain growth.

Keep pinching out the side shoots as they develop. If leaves develop along the stem where you have removed the branch, allow them to remain there as they are food for the plant. They will fall off by themselves when the nutrients are exhausted. Leave about 4-6 shoots at the top of the tree. Some people recommend taking off every shoot other than the main stem, but if this tip becomes broken, it takes quite a while to develop a new shoot. Better to leave on a few extra stems, as you can always remove them later if you wish. Do not remove the leaves from the top of the main stem as they are providing nourishment to the plant.

Keep the plant in low light as this will help the trunk grow quickly. Once the trunk has reached the height you desire, move it to a brighter light to encourage stronger growth of the trunk.

Do not let your plant outgrow its pot. If the plant becomes root bound, this encourages flowering. Flowering should not be allowed until the standard becomes strong and well shaped. On the other hand, if the pot is too large, the soil could remain too wet and cause root rot. Only repot your standard into a pot one size larger than its current pot.

Once your fuchsia standard has reached its desired height, pinch out its growing tip and allow 5-6 side shoots to develop. Train your standard into a pleasing shape by pinching off the tips of growth to achieve the shape you desire. Pinching produces lots of shoots.

Try to keep your plant balanced. If you don’t get the shape you are aiming for the first time, don’t worry. This is a growing tree and a work in progress. You can trim it again in early spring or at the end of the growing season. A wire form which fits on the top of the fuchsia stake may be available from your local greenhouse or nursery; this form gives the branches of your standard additional support for added stability and strength.

Your Fuchsia standard will be ready to display outside within 15 months. Fuchsia trees prefer shady, cool areas of the garden. Feed and water your fuchsia standard as you would any regular fuchsia plant.Give your fuchsia plant a weekly liquid feeding throughout the summer.

Move your tree to a frost free environment early in the fall. Over winter your fuchsia standard in a frost free area such as a garage or toolshed. Keep the roots moist but not wet through the winter. Repot it in the spring if it has outgrown its pot and prune it to the shape you desire if you didn’t do this in the fall.

I hope you enjoy this project of the month. I will be adding new projects on a regular basis, so check back to see if the newest project could be the perfect addition to your container garden.

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