Germinating the seeds
When to plant -- Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best results.
The seeds are easy to germinate. Use any small containers with drainage holes. Use a typical, well-draining soil mix, such as 2 parts high-quality potting soil to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks). An alternate mix is equal parts of perlite and coir fiber, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in.
Fill each container to almost to the top. Don't compress the soil. Water it so that it's uniformly moist. Place 2 or 3 seeds on top, and sprinkle a thin layer of soil on top - just enough to barely cover the seeds (1/8 inch = 2 mm). Lightly water or spray this top layer.
Place the pots in moderate temperatures (about 65-74 degrees F / 18-24°C). Avoid letting them get warmer than about 77°F (25°C). I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating mat.
Keep them in a bright spot, but not in direct sun. Ensure that the soil surface always stays moist. A common way to do this is to enclose the pots in a plastic container or bag. Leave it open a crack to let some fresh air in. You may need to drip a few drops of water on them 1 or more times a day to keep them moist.
The seeds usually start sprouting within 4-5 weeks, but sometimes they take up to 3 months to start. Once they sprout, they will good air circulation to avoid getting stem rot. Water the soil whenever the surface looks dry, but don't keep it soggy either. If you have more than one seedling in each container, snip off the weaker one(s) when they are 4-6 weeks old - or very carefully remove them.
I recommend growing them indoors until they're at least 3 months old. For lighting, you may use a fluorescent bulb kept about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) from the plants. Do not use incandescent (screw-in) bulbs, even if they're called "plant bulbs". You can also put them in filtered sunlight. Protect them from strong, direct sun.
Fuchsias don't like dry air. If your plants seem to suffer from dry air, consider using a room humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.
Watering - Aim to keep the soil evenly moist most of the time. Do not let the soil dry out, but don't keep it constantly saturated either.
Fertilizing - For the first 8 weeks, give a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength) once a week. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete. After 8 weeks, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, or continue feeding weekly with dilute liquid fertilizer.
It's normal for older leaves to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, check that the soil isn't too dry down in the root zone. If you're sure the soil has been moist enough, the plant may need more fertilizer.
Repotting - Repot your plants to larger containers whenever the plant becomes root-bound. Water the soil before repotting, to keep the soil ball from breaking apart, which can damage the roots.
Fuchsia dependens prefers filtered sunlight, with protection from strong afternoon sun. Morning sun + afternoon shade is fine, as is tree-filtered sunlight all day. The plant prefers moderate temperatures and cool nights. The ideal temperature would be between 45 and 80° during the day (7-27°C), and 40-65° at night (4-18°C). In warmer areas, give the plants afternoon shade, and don't place them near a wall where heat can collect. Keep the pot shaded to avoid overheating the roots, and mulch heavily to keep the soil moist. Black pots are not recommended. Protect the plants from all frost.
Pests to watch for - whitefly, aphids, scale (little lumps on the stems or leaves), mealybugs, and possibly spider mites (tiny "dots" under the leaves).
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Have fun growing them!
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