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What to do in Spring

 

Spring/Summer Camellia Care for Camellias

 

How to make sure that next years flowering performance is perfect!

Have you enjoyed your Camellia flowers through winter into spring and did they provide an abundance of flower through that period? Camellias are now flushing with fresh new growth tips. Few gardeners stop to think about this growth and what part it plays in next years flowers. After all it is late spring and your Camellia may not come into flower until July or August next year.

We would like to ask Camellia growers to focus on ensuring their plants make strong and healthy growth through spring summer and autumn so you will enjoy spectacular winter and spring camellia flowers in 2011.

Much is said about what needs to be done to ensure good flowering on a camellia. This advice usually comes as we see the flower buds becoming obvious in autumn and early winter. However this is usually too late to have a marked effect on the plants flowering performance that year. In most cases in autumn Camellia flower buds have their future already determined. This is especially true regards the number of flowers and usually the quality of those blooms. We must look at the how your plant is fertilized, watered, potted or what quality of soil it is planted in and how well drained the soil is, these are the things that ensure good healthy growth and a strong healthy plant.

The time to ensure good flowering for next year is now.

A Check list of Camellias needs in Spring/Summer are:

Camellias grown in pots, if your plant has been in the same container for some years, consider repotting either into a larger pot, into the ground or back into the same pot. Even if the plants appear healthy. Often Camellias are left till they show signs of distress before they are given a bigger pot. Use quality acidic premium potting mix for Camellias.

Although now is considered a little late to prune, if you are potting or planting you will no doubt damage some roots so a light prune and shape of the plant is advisable. Remember the growth you prune now will reduce next year’s flowers.

It is essential you fertilizer Camellias annually.  We suggest any of the slow release Camellia, Azalea fertilizers for pots and in the garden situation Blood and Bone works well as does Dynamic lifter/Rapid Raiser chicken manure based fertilizers.

Watering is best carried out using a deep soak method, which is a deep soak infrequently rather than frequent light watering. You need to make sure that the salts (fertilizer builds up) are flushed through the soil.

Mulching is extremely important.  Always ensure the surface of the soil is well mulched with an organic fibrous material eg. Pea straw, fine pine bark orCoir peat.

In an open garden situation you could use aged animal manures.

Its camellia Time!

Our undercover camellia display is on daily and our shade house is brimming with camellias covered in buds and blooms.

Always check out our Facebook page to see what is flowering.

Our most frequently asked Camellias questions:

Why grow Camellias?

Because they are beautiful winter flowering plants and secondly they fit well into any garden scheme. Camellias are the choicest winter flowering plant in cultivation. They can be used as individual garden specimens, in tubs, or creatively used as espalier, hanging baskets or topiary specimens. So as you can see they are extremely versatile.  C. japonicas flower from May to September and it would be difficult to find many other plants that would fit into as many situations.

How often should I water my camellias?

More plants are killed by over watering than by any other cause. Camellias enjoy one or two deep soaking s a week; this is preferable to light frequent sprinklings. The deep soakings assist in carrying away accumulated salts which can build up from fertilizer use. The periods between watering allow the roots to breath.

What are the main characteristics of Camellia japonica?

As roses fade from view bright camellia blooms are always ready and waiting. Beautiful evergreen and prolific flowering japonicas are the most popular and largest group grown in Adelaide, easily recognized by their neat glossy dense green foliage.  Plants will grow into a large garden bush or can be easily maintained as a tub specimen.  Flowers will last for many weeks depending on the prevailing weather unlike camellia sasanqua which will blow away in a breeze.

What are their soil requirements?

Good drainage is essential. They prefer a soil which has high humus content, described as an acid soil with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5. This soil can be purchased in bags from your local garden centre or alternatively mix your own using course sand, loan, peat moss and well rotted compost. Remember your soil will be well worth your investment, it will mean the difference between a healthy plant or a struggling unhappy plant.

Should I mulch my camellias?

Yes! This will help keep the top soil layer moist and cool. Please mulch your whole garden especially with our new water conservation laws.  We use pea straw, but the sky is the limit use what ever is easy and cost efficient for you.  Shredded pine bark is every attractive with its dark brown finish and will also improve your soils condition. Make sure that you keep the mulch a few inches form the trunk of all your plants.

Can I prune my camellias?

Most camellias are tidy growers but when necessary they love to be pruned. If you are cutting flowers to display inside this will help your camellia bush to remain a dense compact shape.  If your camellia have got too tall it’s easy to carefully prune the top foliage.  Camellias respond well to a prune for shape immediately after flowering season, which is mid to late September.

Do camellias grow in sun?

Camellia sasanqua are the early autumn flowering variety that will tolerate a sunnier position as long as your mulching, watering and soil preparation is attended to.

If you would like to grow a C. japonica in a sunnier position you must make sure that you have selected a hardier variety, eg Great Eastern The Czar or the Emperor of Russia. In general the darker red blooms are tougher and happier in more sun than the paler softer coloured varieties.

 When do I fertilise my Camellias?

If you would like to achieve optimum growth fertilise in early spring and again in mid summer. Fertilizers such as slow release Osmocote are easy to use and perfect for plants grown in containers.  In the garden situation an organic fertilizers such as Blood and Bone or any of the commercial Camellia Azalea fertilizers or well aged chicken, sheep, cow or pig manure can be useful, the best advise is don’t over do it! Always follow a feeding with a good watering.

Can I move my camellia?

Of course you can! However timing is important and the best time is in late autumn through winter. Large plants can be moved by taking the root ball equivalent to the size of the top foliage. You will find that camellias have surface roots, so if you damage a few and this is quite possible make sure that you prune the top foliage to compensate for root loss. Make sure that you have your new home ready and place it facing the same direction as it was growing.  Easily done by marking east with a tag before moving. Remember to give your moved camellia a deep soaking.

 

 

 

 

arris, June 15th, 2016

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