To overwinter fuchsias they must first be allowed to defoliate. Leaf drop can be attained by leaving the plants outside in a light and airy position in September - or cutting the leaves off yourself.
If you have only a small space to store your fuchsias over the winter period, it is best to prune them back by at least one third. This is preferably done when the sap has stopped flowing. The cuts should always be made above a node and, to help prevent botrytis and die back, the pruning cuts should be sealed with a sealing compound.
If you have plenty of space, pruning may be delayed until the early Spring when the plants start into growth. The advantage of this is that diseases are virtually eliminated, providing the correct storage and winter care are adhered to. The disadvantage is that, if left too late in spring, the sap will be rising and mildew and botrytis could be a problem if the wounds caused by pruning, bleed.
A frost free shed or greenhouse is an ideal place for storing fuchsias. Once the plants are defoliated they may be placed under the staging or in boxes (a polystyrene fish box is ideal for protecting plants from frost) and, after watering, cover with fleece, peat, hessian or even newspapers. Another method, which is not used as much nowadays, is to bury the plants at least six inches below soil level (not forgetting to mark the spot).
It is important to ensure the plants are not kept in too high a temperature as this could start the plants into premature growth – something which must be avoided until you have sufficient heat to sustain the growth.
If heat is available you can start the plants into growth in late January or early February. Commence spraying the stems with warm water to induce the buds into growth. If not already done, pruning should now be carried out.
If no heat is available you can delay starting the plants into growth until late March or early April,.
Garden hardies will also benefit from some protection over winter. Cover the crown of the plant with at least four inches of peat, sand, straw etc.