One of the most satisfying things about growing any plant is being able to multiply them easily and, most of all, quite cheaply, and fuchsias definitely fall into that category. There are plenty of fuchsia books and web sites telling you how to take cuttings and the basic method shown on this page is the way I take cuttings, as do many other fuchsia growers. It works for me.
Revised July 2011
First, gather together all the things you will need. A good sharp knife is needed as the cut you are going to make must be clean and not ragged. a clean cut leads to quicker healing and root development.Rooting medium of the right sort is essential. Fuchsias will root in almost anything, even water, but this is not ideal as the cutting will form water roots which are brittle and will easily break when you try and pot them on into compost. Also the cutting will suffer a check (stop growing) whilst the proper feeding roots develop.An ideal rooting medium is one made up of 50% perlite or vermiculite mixed with 50% ordinary potting compost which has been put through a ¼" sieve. This medium must be moist enough to the point that it holds it shape if squeezed in the hand, but not so wet that water runs from it.Labels and pens. Don't think you will remember which cutting is which. You won't.A good clean healthy plant is the most important of all. It's no good hoping you can rescue one or two cuttings from a pest or diseased ridden plant which is about to go in the bin. Your cuttings will soon follow it. Give it a good water the day before you take cuttings so that they will be as fresh as possible. A cutting will have to survive for at least 21 days (in the right conditions) without any roots, so it needs the best start you can give it.Have everything ready and to hand. The sooner you get your cutting settled into it's new environment, the better.
The best time to take cuttings is from late September through to late Spring when all fuchsias want to do is put on new growth. Obviously, cutting material in the middle of Winter is restricted to those who have a heated greenhouse. Once they go into flowering mode its hard to find non flowering shoots and if you do, the cuttings often try to produce flower buds and can take longer to root. Once rooted, again, they want to produce flower buds instead of growth.Here we have an unprepared cutting as seen when taken from it's 'mother' just above a set of leaves. By chance this cutting is throwing leaves in three's instead of the usual pairs. I don't know why this happens, but its not uncommon and, whatever the reason, it can be considered as a bonus as an extra side shoot will be made in each of the leaf axils, giving extra flowers. But don't be surprised if some of the later growth reverts back to the more usual pairs of leaves.
With the bottom leaves removed and the stem trimmed off just below the leaf node we have reached the stage of a fuchsia cutting and one I would recommend for the beginner to start with. This would be inserted into your rooting medium half way up the stem.This fuchsia cutting if taken in the early spring will root quite easily, but, as the season progresses, the stems will ripen or harden and rooting cuttings of this size can take longer, so putting the cutting under more pressure.
In early spring it is not always possible to find the length of cutting mentioned above on plants kept through the winter. An alternative cutting is the one shown here, commonly known as a tip cutting. Also these cuttings are available right through Spring and into early Summer before the plant goes into ‘flowering mode’. All the goodness and hormones are raging away at the top of every shoot so these make ideal cutting material. To take it a bit further, half of the bottom set of leaves can be cut (cleanly) away as the cutting will not need all this leaf during it’s time of propagation. The cutting on the right is now prepared and ready for the next step. This would be just and so inserted into the rooting medium, almost sitting on the top. The problem with these is that, once they have rooted, you will have longer to wait for the plant to develop as against a longer cutting. With all your cuttings try and pick those with the same size leaves, this will help in producing a plant which has even growth.
Here we have a 3 inch pot with 12 tip cuttings and a 2 inch pot with 5 tip cuttings. If you are feeling really adventurous root them altogether and leavethem in the pot and grow them on and treat them as one plant. Be warned, it is not as easy as some growers make out, otherwise prick them out singly.There are no rules about how many should go in a pot. I feel its as many as looks comfortable, as tip cuttings will vary in size from cultivar to cultivar. Fuchsias do not need any sort of rooting powder but if you feel it is necessary then go ahead.Whatever the size of your cuttings, give them a light spray with a fine mister before they go into the propagator.
Here we have two home made propagators. A pop bottle, with the middle cut away with the top sitting inside the bottom, will house the 3 inch pot whilst a coffee jar will take a 2 inch pot. Or simply place a plastic bag over the pot and seal with an elastic band. One or two small canes in the pot will stop the bag touching the cuttings.These are ideal methods for anyone without a greenhouse as they can be placed on a north facing window cill. Don't put them in direct sunshine, like the one on the right, or the cuttings will fry.Don't go opening them up every day to have a look, leave them alone and they will be quite happy in their little environment
The use of Jiffy Pots is another way of rooting cuttings and can give excellent results. They come as flat hard discs, pop them in water and up they swell.If your cutting is quite soft then make a hole with a thin stick, insert the cutting and squeeze the jiffy gently to make sure the cutting is in contact with the compost. A fine spray over the cutting and put them into a propagator.Care has to be taken that the jiffy does not dry out, it has to be kept moist (not soaking wet) at all times. If you use seed trays with holes in the base then line the base and up the sides with thin plastic to enable you to dribble a little water in if needed.Once rooted they can be potted up in the normal way. Some growers take the trouble of cutting away the netting before potting up claiming it stops the roots from coming through but I have never had a problem with this.
This is a commercial propagator for cuttings and, being influenced by a certain fuchsia grower, I tried them and put the obligatory 60 - 70 tip cuttings into one. But the problem I found was not all cultivars will root at the same time and whilst some will have rooted and be ready for potting on, others will not and these will get disturbed.Another problem I had was Botrytis (mould). I always lost at least 10 to 15%, I felt that there was just not enough air for the number and size of cuttings.It just went to prove that what works for one grower doesn’t always work for another. 30 tip cuttings might have stood a better chance and they would be ideal for a dozen normal size cuttings.I now use tray cells on a heated foil mat which looks like an electric blanket and measures 48” x 24”. It has a thermostat for heat control and being foil I can roll it up when not in use. I also made a cover to fit over it from aluminium rods and corner joints which stands about 12” high. The sides are covered with a thin tarpaulin material and the top is covered in thin clear plastic and I use fleece over the top for shading. The mat, rods and corner joints came from Two Wests & Elliot. There is now plenty of airspace and I get a near 100% success rate with cuttings and because the cuttings are in individual cells they can be removed without disturbance to others.
Finally, don’t forget to mist over cuttings and label them before they go into a propagator and don’t go opening it to see how they are doing unless it is to give them a quick mist if they look dry or to dribble a little water around Jiffy Pots.Rooting should take place in about 3 - 4 weeks at a temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The right conditions will be apparent by a fine misting being formed on the inside the lid.You can usually tell when a cutting has rooted without disturbing it. It takes on a fresher and healthier look, even producing new growth in the tip.