Rooted cuttings is one way to propagate fuchsia plants. When rooting fuchsia cuttings, a few tips can improve success rates. Some of the best tips are to take softwood cuttings, use a sterile rooting medium, grow the cuttings in a warm humid environment and apply a rooting hormone to stimulate new growth.
In general, the best type of cutting to use when propagating a fuchsia is a softwood cutting. Softwood fuchsia cuttings are taken in spring and early summer when the stem is green and springy. The cuttings are taken from the growth that developed during the early part of the current growing season. Semi-hard and hardwood cuttings can also be used, but rooting takes longer and has lower success rates. Semi-hard wood cuttings are taken in late summer and hardwood cuttings are taken in late fall, anytime before the first frost.
Early morning typically is the best time to collect fuchsia cuttings. In the morning, plants have more water stored in the stalks than after a long hot day in the sun. Ideally, the cuttings should be 4 inches (about 10 cm) in length. It is important to make the cut right below a leaf node — the leaf node is where the leaf grows out of the stem.
The cutting can either be a terminal cutting or a non-terminal cutting. A terminal cutting includes the tip of the stalk while a non-terminal cutting is a section of the stalk with cuts at both ends. The benefit of non-terminal cuttings is that several cuttings can be created from a single stalk by cutting it into sections. When this method is selected, it is best to make the top cut horizontal and the bottom cut at a 45-degree angle. All the leaves should be pinched off the bottom of the cutting, leaving one to two sets of leaves at the top.
Rooting medium is an important element when rooting fuchsia cuttings. The medium should drain well, provide support and be sterile. A non-soil based medium generally is best — sand, perlite, vermiculite and peat moss work well. A combination of two or more of these materials can also be used.
A 2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) pot works best for rooting single cuttings, but a larger pot can be used to root several fuchsia cuttings. The pot must have holes in the bottom for drainage. When the cuttings are in a perpetually wet or waterlogged environment, they will rot before roots have a chance to develop.
Fuchsia cuttings should be kept between 75 and 85°F (23 to 29°C). A heating pad, designed for horticultural use, can be placed under the pot to help regulate temperature. Humidity increases rooting success; a clear plastic bag placed over the top of the cutting and fastened around the pot creates a humid mini greenhouse. In a humid environment, the leaves absorb moisture to keep the cutting hydrated while roots are forming.
Applying a rooting hormone can help stimulate root development. Most home and garden centers sell rooting hormone in liquid or powder formulas. The bottom 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) should be dipped or rolled in the rooting hormone.
Root development typically takes two to six weeks. After rooting, the fuchsia cuttings can be potted in 4- to 6-inch (about 10- to 15-cm) pots with potting soil and grown indoors for the first winter. The rooted cuttings can then be planted out in spring after the last frost date.