Growing Triphylla's

Triphylla's are a section of Fuchsia  that give a great deal of satisfaction, for as summer bedding or as specimen plants, they are quite unsurpassed for their quality of display.
With their distinctive terminal bunches of flowers, their dark leaves with the purple coloured cast on the underside, makes them very appealing and eye-catching.
The drawback with triphylla's, in the main, is that they are very frost shy and need to be kept in a frost-free environment over winter.
The long, thin tube shaped flowers look like sets of trumpets hanging from the ends of branches. They come in various shades of orange to red, with one hybrid, "Our Ted", being white. 
Most of the varieties have dark green leaves, which provide a beautiful contrast for the plant, heavily laden with terminal flowers.  Recently, a variegated leaf form named ' Firecracker', a sport from 'Thalia', has appeared on the scene, with the general conception, that this is one for the collection.
As with all fuchsia, the triphylla is gross feeder, needing high nitrogen feed early in the growing season, to get maximum green growth, then switching to a balanced fertiliser later, to promote and sustain the flowers.
When growing triphylla's from cuttings or small plants, they always benefit from drop-potting. That is, taking off the lowest leaves and putting the plant at the bottom of the next size larger pot, then topping off with new compost up to the normal pot level, instead of having new compost underneath and keeping the same old surface compost level. This encourages new shoots from below the compost level, from the places where the removed leaves were taken off, and so making a bushier plant, more stems, more leaves, more flowers. Removing the growing tips after three sets of leaves, further encourages bushiness.
A word of warning, triphylla's have a longer period from pinching out the tips, to showing flower, twelve to fifteen weeks, so care must be taken with too much pinching out or you might have a very small flowering period.
Quite a number of triphylla varieties are old hybrids, "Thalia" being introduced in 1905 and "Mary" being introduced in 1897, testimony to quality of the plant that stands this test of time.

G.F Sept.2000

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