In all, you would find over 8,000 hybrid and cultivars of Fuchsia with many of
those making great choices for bonsai. The key in choosing Fuchsia is to
remember that you can control the size and density of leaf growth whereas
flowering size cannot be controlled. Therefore, you should only choose Fuchsia
with small flowering ability. Some of the top choices for bonsai enthusiasts
include F. Lady Thumb, F Tom Thumb, and Microphylla.
Members of the Magellancia species are by far the hardest and best suited for
bonsai training. In addition, variegated species are weak, therefore not making
good choices. The leaves of the Fuchsia Magellancia reach between one and two
inches and the flowering is vibrant purple and red. The trunk of this particular
species will grow to four or five inches in about five years if grown outside in
the ground prior to training for bonsai. Many styles work well with Fuchsia
although the cascade and informal upright are the most common choices.
The Fuchsia tree has varying degrees of hardiness depending on the species you
choose. Using the Magellancia as an example, this tree’s leaves can tolerate
temperatures as low as 27 degrees before dying although the root system is able
to handle temperatures down to 14 degrees. To ensure the Fuchsia tree has proper
growing seasons, it does require some dormancy. The recommendation is to keep
the Fuchsia outdoors until the first frost of fall. At that time, the Fuchsia
should be moved to a place where it will receive more sunlight, and be protected
from further frost until mid-spring when it would need to be placed back
outdoors in full sun.
Fuchsia trees prefer high humidity so frequent misting is required. Since this
particular tree does not begin its growth season until temperatures reach 50
degrees, you may not see any new growth until late spring or early summer. If
the Fuchsia has not grown by the middle of June, the tree would be considered
dead. During the first 10 years, the Fuchsia would need to be repotted every two
years. From that time forward, repotting would be done every four to five years,
using a good quality soil.
During the summer months, Fuchsia trees need to be pinched back weekly to
control fast growing shoots and leaf size. When flower buds begin to grow
through the growing season, maintenance pruning of the branches and leaves will
have no affect. However, to help the tree conserve energy required for growth,
it is recommended the buds be removed on a continual basis. Additionally, you
will likely notice sprout suckers growing from the roots, which would need to be
cut or pinched back.
Because of the strong growth of the Fuchsia, little wiring is required.
Typically, ongoing pruning will keep the bonsai in good shape. Now, keep in mind
that the younger shoots will thicken quite fast so if you do wire them, watch
daily to ensure there are no wire cuts. You will also find that Fuchsia trees
are extremely easy to propagate with new cuttings taken in the spring or almost
ripe cuttings sometime in late summer.
Unfortunately, Fuchsia trees are prone to aphids. Therefore, your bonsai would
need to be inspected for these small insects on a regular basis. Finally, if the
soil is too wet and the Fuchsia does not receive proper airflow, you might
notice the development of mildew. In both cases, we recommend using organic
solutions for killing the aphids and controlling mildew.