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JUST PLANT TALK By.........Eric Stanlick

Do you talk to your plants? There is no evidence to show that plants respond to your voice, but I like to think it could have a good effect on their growth. A few words of encouragement may help both plants and the grower, but keep your voice down or it will be your neighbour who talks next - with perhaps a touch of sarcasm! Talking to plants is one thing, but what they can tell you is another. They tell us so much by the colour and size of their leaves, and by their upward growth towards the strongest light. Deep green foliage is a good sign. Yellowing leaves shows chlorosis which among other reasons can be a
result of over or under watering, or a shortage of nitrogen or magnesium. Mottled, abnormally narrow leaves with withered tips shows a lack of the trace element molybdenum. Yellowing between the leaf veins and poor growth denotes a shortage of manganese. Knock the plants out of their pots and the roots will tell you more. Short white roots are a good healthy sign. White roots going around the inside of the pot tell you to pot up into a one size larger pot. Dark brown roots with no white ones could mean Vine Weevil grubs are present, or you have been overwatering. These last two are, I find fatal - (to the plant). Plants under stress lose their lower leaves to protect the top growth and seeds - (survival of the species). Observe what your plants have to tell you, and you will grow better and healthier plants as a result. In our case, better fuchsia’s? Create the right conditions and you plants will flourish! I talk to my plants. I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me!
I’m just a little mad.


· Use a young plant, either a cutting you have taken or a bought in plant.
· Use controlled release fertilizer in the compost.This releases nutrients into compost as the temperature increases, as the plant requires more feed more nutrients are released. It
always pays to liquid feed even if slow release fertilizer has been added to compost.
· Let the plant produce 3 sets of leaves.
· Pinch out the growing tip (this is called stopping and 1st stop). The plant will then produce 6 side shoots, in a couple of weeks when the side shoots have developed and produced 2 sets of leaves pinch out the growing tip (2nd stop).
· Continue pinching out the growing tips (3rd stop produces 24 shoots) untill the plant has developed into the required shape.
· Single variety Fuchsia flower aprox 60 days after the last stop.
· Semi double fuchsia flower aprox 70 days after the last stop.
· Double Fuchsia approx 80 days after the last stop.
· Feed the Fuchsia little and often as this produces better results than feeding once a week.


The first pelargoniums were found in South Africa by sailors early in the 17th century. The varieties with tuberous roots were used as medicine. At this time plants of many sorts were being brought to Europe and species of pelargoniums soon found favour as pot plants. Although many wild pelargoniums trailed and climbed in their semi arid homeland, it was found
that new varieties could easily be developed with differing growth and foliage. Regals, uniques and scented leaf plants were very popular. Zonals did not really start to develop until early in the 19th century, when the Victorians created a great many for their newly fashionable hot houses and conservatories. Nurseries listed hundreds of varieties of regals, zonals, angels, uniques and miniatures. A lot of these varieties were lost when interest wained in the first half of the 20th century,but since the 50’s, many new growers have developed their own cultivars. In fact it can be a problem deciding on the true name of a plant with so many new but similar plants available. I have even found nurseries giving plants their own names. This makes life difficult when the society has its show as I want to give plants their rightful name.


Since the discovery of the first species fuchsia by Father P’ere Plumier, Fuchsia triphylla, in what is now the Dominican Republic, there has been an ever increasing number of new cultivars produced. Many of the early varieties introduced by hybridists such as Lye and Bonstedt are still around to this day. Since then there have been hybridists such as Brown, Paskensen, Tiret and more recently Waltz, Stubbs, De Graaff, Wright and Beije, to name just a few, who have improved the fuchsia beyond all recognition - surely Plumier would think he were in fuchsia heaven to see the diversity of colour, shape and form that now exists. Most of our present day cultivars are the product of crosses that have Fuchsia magellanica in their genes, although in recent years hybridists have used other species fuchsia to try to improve the colour, pest and disease resistance and growth habit of the new cultivars. The recent additions include the ‘aubergine’ crosses that have been made
using the New Zealand species such as F. perscandens, F. excorticata and F. procumbens. These new cultivars have, in my opinion, a higher degree of heat and draught tolerance and are therefore a valuable improvement to the genus. I have also found that in the south of England where I live, that all of these cultivars have been found to be ‘hardy’ by most people who have grown them. Some of the aims of hybridists in recent years have been to improve the pest and disease resistance of fuchsia’s by introducing crosses using species that show some resistance such as F. hatschbachii, F. alpestris and F. glazioviana. This resistance could be attributed to the thick glossy leaves, or hairiness associated with many species which could act as a deterrent to any sap sucking pest. In the USA hybridising trials using these and other species are being undertaken to combat fuchsia gall mite, a serious pest in that part of the world. Other aims are to produce plants capable of flowering all year round, scented flowers and plants suitable for indoor use. The encliandras are one such species, which flower when the temperature and light levels drop and would be ideally suited as houseplants. Several are reputed to be scented but unfortunately I am unable to detect this myself. Other cultivars, for example ‘Walz Jubelteen’, ‘Andrew Hadfield’ and ‘Gwen Dodge’ are ideal plants for summer bedding because of their upward facing blooms. In a recent survey carried out on the British Fuchsia Society website I was amazed at the response received with regard to certain seedlings, some of which were mine. I much prefer the large doubles and many of the singles I produce are discarded without thought. It was surprising therefore to see a single that I considered unsuitable receiving the second highest score. Fuchsia’s seem to be regional, some that are grown in the south of England may never be seen in the north of England. The same is true of the continent and the USA - how many cultivars produced in these countries ever reach the United Kingdom? It is therefore very hard to decide when releasing a new cultivar exactly how good, or different, that cultivar is without having seen the thousands that are now available. The other problem is how do you tell someone who has hybridised his own plant that it is not good enough for general release when so many that have come before are quite obviously similar to existing cultivars. Another problem is that unscrupulous nurseries, to meet the demand for ‘new varieties’, re-name existing cultivars to feed this craving. I have come to the opinion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - what I like is disliked by others and vice versa. With the dedication shown by some of the leading hybridists I am sure that there is a lot more that can be achieved. Who knows that elusive yellow fuchsia may be just around the corner.


In a recent article published in ‘Garden News’ you may have seen an article by our President, Carol Gubler, regarding the support of specialist nurseries. Carol, who owns and runs Little Brook
Fuchsias, is a specialist Nurserywoman who supplies a diverse range of fuchsias, including newly released cultivars. Apart from the plants at these nurseries you can be sure that you will also be able to get expert advice which is not readily available at the large stores such as Homebase or B & Q’s. Although these stores supply a limited range of plants, which I would describe as ‘run of the mill’, they will never be able to compete with a specialist nursery for the sheer range and diversity that is now available.
When, if ever, was the last time you saw a species fuchsia at a garden centre? It is for this reason that we need to support all the specialist nurseries, whether that be fuchsia, pelargonium or any other genus of plant that will be lost forever if only mass produced plants from the continent are available. It may well be very appealing to purchase a nice plant in a 5”
pot at a reasonably low cost, but it is these nurserymen and nurserywomen who will ensure that our favourite plants continue to improve and survive. Don’t forget that we are visiting four nurseries this year and your support would be greatly appreciated, for both the society and the

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