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Originally published Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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August to-do list: plant hardy fuchsias, feed perennials, prune

Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Times garden writer, says it is time to plant fuchsias so they have time to take root before winter; flowering plants and perennials need feeding in mid-August and it is OK to prune deciduous trees now.

Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe's Picks

Fronderosa Frolic 2012: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fancy Fronds Nursery in Gold Bar (40830 172nd St. S.E.). For additional information and directions go to

Sno-King Fuchsia Society Annual Plant Sale & Show: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Country Village Shopping Center (23718 Bothell-Everett Highway in Bothell). Fuchsia specialists will be available to answer questions and help with selections. Information at (click on "Annual Club Plant Sale and Show Info").

Victorian Day at the Volunteer Park Conservatory: 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Enjoy the Conservatory's 100th year celebration. Events include music, horse and carriage rides, activities for kids, costume contest and tree tours by Walt Bubelis. General admission is free, but preregistration is required for the croquet tournament: $60 or $50 for conservatory members. Information at

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How can anyone resist hardy fuchsias? They're easy to grow, bloom from June until frost and have beautiful flowers that hummingbirds can't resist. These hardy shrubs come in every size and shape. Fuchsia procumbuns is a ground cover with orangish-green and blue tubed flowers while F. 'Regia' is a huge 12-foot shrub studded with gazillions of small, red and purple flowers.

The stunningly beautiful climber, 'Lady Boothby,' has large red and purple-black flowers and can reach more than 15 feet tall when tied to a trellis. The flower size and color vary dramatically as well.

The crimson flowers on F. 'Isis' are only a quarter inch while F. 'Dr. Otto' sports double 2-inch-wide blossoms. Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' is covered in pure white flowers, F. 'Cardinal' has scarlet blooms, and the blossoms of F. 'Peppermint Stick' are streaked with red and purple. A reliable favorite of mine, 'Mrs. Popple,' features big scarlet and purple flowers.

Plant your hardy fuchsia soon to give it time to grow deep roots before winter sets in. For extra cold tolerance, plant your hardy fuchsia four inches deeper than it comes out of the pot. Even if the tag instructs you to plant it in shade, your hardy fuchsia will bloom better in sun but avoid extremely hot areas of the garden. Mulch, fertilize with organic flower food and water regularly; then sit back and watch the hummingbirds flitter about as they decide which Fuchsia to visit.

Fertilize flowering plants

Mid-August is a great time to feed some of your flowering plants and perennials. Fertilizing your roses now with a mix of organic-rose food and alfalfa meal will stimulate growth needed to produce a spectacular flower display in September and October, while being early enough to give the new growth ample time to harden off before the November cold moves in.

This is also a great time to feed dahlias, and hardy fuchsias with the same mix of alfalfa meal and organic-flower food to encourage heavy blooming right up until the foliage begins to die back in late fall.

While you're at it, feed your lilies with organic-bulb food. The added nutrients will help produce a bigger bulb and a stronger and better lily next year. Scratch the fertilizer into the soil and water it in. Your lilies will be humongous next summer but your roses, dahlias and Fuchsias will reward you this season with stunning flowers.

Pruning deciduous trees

In the past, we all learned that deciduous trees should only be pruned while they're dormant in winter. Newer research finds that summer pruning in July and August is better because it lowers the potential for disease problems and also reduces sprout regrowth.

This is the perfect time to remove lower branches that are blocking the sidewalk, growing into the side of your house or making it impossible to mow your lawn.

While you're at it, thin out and cut back branches that are hitting the ground or growing too tall on your Japanese maple. This is also the best time to prune fruit trees. Don't worry if the tree is full of fruit.

You'll find that if you take your time, it's easy to remove sprouts, thin crowded branches and control for height without knocking off fruit.

Ciscoe Morris:; "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

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About In the Garden

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.


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