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.