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Hardy Fuchsia pruning (Hawkshead)


Just to check, I have three small Hawksheads growing in pots - and they're still growing even now! image 

I know the recommendation is to cut them back in spring but I'm worried about wind rock and also, they all have some kind of bug on them that is curling the young leaves to wrap itself up in a little cocoon. I have no idea what it is... So I wondered if it's a good idea to give them a trim to about 50% now to get rid of the pest and potential wind damage? Or is that opening me up to all kinds of disease trouble?

Thanks! image



  • Hi Edd, 

    Sorry, the sun's just gone down so I can't get a recent photo or one of the bug however, they're only about 20 cm taller than this one taken a couple of months ago:

    They're outside, the pots are very large, about 45-50 cm diameter. They're pretty healthy otherwise, it's just that they have a lot of green growth on them and the main stem is quite thin still. 

    I'll try and get a photo of the bug, but they look a bit like brown caterpillars, maybe 1 cm long and quite thin, pulling the leaf over using a white silky fluff. They either pull over one side of the leaf, or on small leaves, pull both sides up to form little sleeping bags! They've been there since summer and I've been trying to get rid of them. They only seem to affect the softer new leaves - in summer also scrunching up the emerging bud at the tip. 

    Thanks for your help.


  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Whatever the bug is Jack, just squish em. Problem solved, check the rootball for any larvae, if there are any present, wash off the compost and repot in fresh compost, it won't do any harm to the plant as they are relatively dormant. Let them get a good frosting if you can, fuchsia's benefit from dormancy and hawkshead is very hardy. Frost will also make short work of any eggs left behind.  In spring you can prune quite hard, hawkshead is vigorous and can put on feet in a season, mine get hard pruned in about April and get to 4.5ft in a year, they will grow bigger if pruned by half. A customer of mine has them up to 7-8ft. Just remember to feed them during spring and summer.

  • It  depends on where you are. If you cut back hard now and you then have hard weather in Feb. you could lose the plants. I never cut my hardy fuschias back until the Spring as the top growth protects the main stem of the bushes. My plants all have a lot of greenery on them still becuase it has been mild, so far, but you never know when a frost might come acalling.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,863

    My Hawkshead is still flowering (I forgot to include it in my New Year's Day List) .  It's in pot which I've moved into a sheltered corner with some other plants so I'm not concerned about wind-rock. 

    I'm going to plant it into the ground in the spring, so I'll cut it back then.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thank you everyone for all of your advice. I think I had better just leave them be for now then. They are relatively protected by a fence and, even in the gales of the last two days, haven't been affected so they should be OK.

    I managed to catch the bug in action today. It's a very fast, wriggly little caterpillar! I'm guessing it might be the winter moth? Although they've been there since summer.








  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 8,398

    Yes , squash the bug and leave the cutting to spring 

    A couple of years a go I started putting Hortucultrual grit in the top of large pots and it seems to stop larver living in the soil 

    Great plants fusias , have several hardy ones myself image

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