January 23, 2008 - 00:00

Summermelody fuchsias are distinguished by their early flowering, compact growth and great weather stability. Colors in this series include Santamaria (red/mauve); Sunfilipe (red/white); Sunramon (red/light blue); Sunmiguel (pink/violet); Suncarlos (red/blue); and Orient Point (pink/white). In the past three years, Sunfilipe has become a top-selling fuchsia in the red/white category.

Fuchsias prefer nutrient-rich potting compost. Plant the salt-sensitive young plants in normal potting compost and give repeated applications of liquid fertilizer. Fast rooting should be achieved with a temperature around 68° F during the first 14 days.

Support the stems after rooting and drop the temperature to about
60° F for compact, hardy plants. Growth regulators may be used according to plant type and requirements, two to three times for fast-growing varieties. Topflor (flurprimidol) can also be added to the spraying water.

Pay particular attention to Botrytis prevention. Spraying against Botrytis by soaking up the base of the stem is recommended. Airy, bright conditions in which the leaves can remain dry will considerably reduce the likelihood of Botrytis.

Pests to watch for include whitefly, aphids, spider mites and thrips. Controlling whitefly will be achieved only with weekly spraying. Thrips occur most commonly in warmer temperatures over 70° F. This is the ideal time to control them.

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