Germinating the seeds
Plant your seeds when you receive them for the best germination
Getting started -- Use any small containers or cups that have drainage holes. Use a well draining soil mix, such as 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite. An alternate mix is equal parts of coir fiber and perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in. Do not add lime to the mix, since the plant likes slightly-acid soil.
Fill each container and water it. Don't compress the soil. Place a seed or 2 on top, and sprinkle a thin layer of soil on top - just enough to barely cover the seeds, because light helps the seeds germinate. Sprinkle some water on the top soil layer to settle in the seeds.
Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface always stays moist. An easy way maintain moisture is to enclose the pots in a plastic dome or bag. Leave it open a crack to allow some fresh air in. You may need to drip a few drops of water on the seeds every day keep them moist.
Keep the pots at about 65-77 degrees F (18-25°C). A little cooler at night is ok, but avoid letting them get above 79°F (26°C). I recommend keeping a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots.
The seeds should begin sprouting in 4 to 6 weeks, but allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones to sprout, especially at cooler temperatures. Give your seedlings bright light, but avoid direct sunlight when they are small. I recommend growing them indoors for at least 2-3 months. If you have more than one seedling in each container, either snip off the weaker one(s) after 4 weeks or gently transplant them.
Watering - For the first month, keep the soil surface moist, since the seedlings have a small root system.
After the first month, it's ok to let the soil surface dry out between waterings, but try to keep the lower soil evenly moist most of the time. Never let it dry out completely, but don't keep it constantly soggy either, and don't let them sit in a tray of water.
Climate -- It comes from mountain cloud forests in Peru, and like most Fuchsias, it prefers mild daytime temperatures and cool nights. It can tolerate warm days provided that nights are cool. I don't know if it will thrive if temperatures regularly get above 85 degrees F (29 C) and nights are above 65 degrees F (18 C). I don't think it can survive temperatures below freezing.
Over about 40% humidity is best. If the plants seem to suffer from low humidity indoors, consider using an ultrasonic humidifier, sold at home improvement stores and some thrift shops.
Feeding -- Once they are 7 days old, give a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat each week. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrientse.
Once the plants have 3 pairs of leaves, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients. Follow the dosage on the package.
It's normal for an older leaf to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, the soil may be too dry down in the root zone, or your plant may need more nitrogen fertilizer.
Pruning -- The plant tends to have a wide growth habit, but you can encourage a more upward, tree-like shape by removing some of the lower side branches after the plant is 6 months old.
Pests to watch for - Watch for any bugs that typically affect your other plants. Try using insecticidal soap before using stronger remedies, since some may harm the plant.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
Have fun growing them!
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