Prune hardy fuchsias to tidy them up while the spring shoots are still dormant, and you'll find they erupt in fresh green growth from next month onwards ready for their lovely long-lasting display of pendent purple and red flowers through summer.
There are plenty of varieties of fuchsia able to survive even quite a hard winter: most are related to F. magellanica, a tough shrub which is so resilient it's naturalised and now grows wild in the hedgerows of Ireland and Southwest England. Among the best you'll find at your garden centre and are the semi-double 'Margare', with a violet skirt and red sepals, 'Mrs Popple' and the compact 'Tom Thumb', just 30cm high and perfect for containers.
By now all will have died back in the winter frosts, leaving a thicket of brown stems. These do a good job of providing frost protection for the living crown of the plant through winter, but now they can be cleared away ready for spring. Snip them away right at ground level with sharp secateurs, taking care not to damage any new shoots which may be emerging. Then scatter some slow-release fertiliser, give the plant a good water and mulch well.
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