If you are not the owner of a heated greenhouse the best advice is to treat your plants as follows. Let them continue flowering and enjoy their beauty until the first frost is forecast; this will vary by date depending on where you live. If you do not know for sure that your plants are hardy they must be protected from the cold. Those planted directly in the ground should be dug up, except the hardy varieties and any that you are not too bothered about.
Take care with the roots and repot or place the pots into a polythene bag, tie bags with twine around the base of the stem at the same time secure label. Next cut off all the sappy growth; you will recognise this as soft green or reddish shoots, the hardwood is a tan colour. If the plant is still too large for you to accommodate prune back harder.
Now remove all remaining leaves, being careful not to damage the stem as this wound could attract fungi. A fungicide spray would not hurt at this time.
All the plants in pots should have their root ball inspected for vine weevil grubs; any you find should be removed and fed to the resident Robin. Put a name label in the pot.
O.K. what do you do if you have 350 plants prepared? Dare I suggest throwing away 300 and just keep your best ones, they will be so easy to propagate next year. How ever many you keep store them using the following method which can be adapted to your convenience.
Any container i.e. cold frame, cold greenhouse, garden shed, loft, cellar or trench in the garden, but the garden must be well drained and the plants at least nine inches below soil level. The plants are laid on their sides closely together and covered with some type of insulating material. Another layer of plants can be added and so on until container is full. When sheds, lofts, cellars etc are used the plants can be put into large cardboard boxes or stout polythene bags so as to contain them neatly.
Important: Make sure the compost is just moist before storing the plants and one or two should be checked now and again to make sure they are not drying out. A favourite insulating material is Irish moss peat followed closely by Eco-compost as they can both be used as dressings in and around the garden in the Spring.
Taking cuttings at this time of year without a heated greenhouse is fraught with problems. It is far better to buy just a few rooted cuttings in the Spring from a specialist nursery. A handy cheap book, 'Everything About Fuchsias', published by the British Fuchsia Society may come in useful.
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