Gardening Q&A: How can I keep my fuchsias healthy in the winter?

The experts at the RHS answer your gardening questions...
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 Question: I have grown fuchsias for many years with no problems. I have some in the garden, and 25 in pots on a wall. This year, the ones in the pots have had spotted leaves which have fallen off. I think it may be a form of rust? When I cut them down to put in my greenhouse for the winter, should I spray them? If so, what should I buy? A friend said he used to use something but the EU have banned it.

Answer: This sounds very much like fuchsia rust, which often appears in wet years or towards the end of the season, when there is more humidity in the air and temperatures drop. Pick off the affected leaves as soon as you see them and make sure that all fallen leaves are also disposed of. It's likely that the disease lives inside the plant, so spraying when there are no leaves will not help. Keep a close eye on the foliage next summer, and if you see any hint of reinfection, spray with a product such as Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra. Just be aware that fuchsias are rather sensitive to chemicals, so after spraying, do not repeat for at least three weeks to see if there is any damage.

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