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Fuchsia magellanica var. macrostema

How to prune hardy fuchsias

Get a better display of flowers from your fuchsias by pruning them in spring – we show you how.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Fuchsias and other sub-shrubs can be cut back in March and April, once all risk of frost has passed.

Sub-shrubs are halfway between herbaceous perennials, which die back in winter, and shrubs, which make self-supporting wood. Leaving the previous season’s growth in place over winter affords a little extra insulation to the lower parts of stems. Here, the plants retain the ability to re-grow from leaf joints or ‘nodes’, even if there are no obvious buds.

In cold winters, particularly in northern regions of the UK, you may find that the upper buds and stems on these sub-shrubs are damaged by frost. Don’t worry – it’s a good idea to prune these back anyway, to prevent them from becoming floppy under the weight of new growth.

The key to keeping fuchsias and other sub-shrubs in good shape is to prune them back annually in mid-spring, as they start into growth.

You will need:

A sharp pair of secateurs is the right tool for this task. If you’re looking to update your kit, our experts have been busy testing the best secateurs, so you can buy with confidence.

In a hurry? Here are some of the best buys from this tests:

More advice on pruning plants in spring:

Find out how to prune hardy fuchsias and other sub-shrubs, below.

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You Will Need

  • Secateurs
  • Long-handled loppers
  • Garden fork

Step 1

Use secateurs to prune back the thicker stems to just above a ‘node’, composed of a pair of buds, low down on the stem. This will allow any stems that are still alive after the winter to heal, and prevents dieback down into the crown of the plant.

Cutting back the thickest stems
Cutting back the thickest stems

Step 2

Remove all the thinnest, weakest growth that formed last year, as most of this is likely to have been killed over the winter months. Cut this back to the main stems, so that all the plant’s energy is channelled into strong buds and shoots.

Cutting back the thinnest growth
Cutting back the thinnest growth

Step 3

Look for any stems that have split or been damaged over the winter or during pruning. Cut them cleanly below the damage, using loppers if they’re too thick for secateurs to cope with.

Cutting back thick, damaged stems with loppers
Cutting back thick, damaged stems with loppers

Step 4

Leave the plant looking neat and tidy. The remaining lower sections of last year’s stems will help to protect new shoots that sprout from below soil level. Lightly fork around the base of the plant to remove weeds and relieve any soil compaction.

Assess the pruned plant
Assess the pruned plant
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More sub-shrubs to prune like this

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'
Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight’