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Our five most frequently asked Camellias questions

How often should I water my camellias?
In containers camellias enjoy one or two deep soakings a week when it’s about 20 degrees. It really depends on how quickly your soil dries out and this will be different in every situation and in every season. For example a freshly potted camellia will stay moist longer than one in a root bound small container. Best to keep an eye on the top soil and apply a deep watering when the top starts to appear dry. Camellias once established are low water use plants especially where mulch is used.
Deep soakings assist in carrying away accumulated salts which can build up from fertiliser use. The periods between watering allow the roots to breath.

What are their soil requirements?
Camellias prefer a soil which has high humus content, described as an acid soil with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5. This acidic potting soil can be purchased in bags from your local garden centre.
Remember your soil will be well worth your investment, it will mean the difference between a healthy plant and a struggling plant. Quality potting soil is designed to drain and this is essential.

Should I mulch my camellias?
Mulch your Camellias throughout the year. Pulverized pine bark, aged animal manure, well composted leaves and lawn clippings are all useful. There are many brands of quality bagged mulching products available also. Avoid letting this material build up around the trunk of the plant as collar rot can occur. As well as conserving moisture, mulch keeps soil temperature down and contributes to nutrient levels.

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.

When do I fertilise my Camellias?
Use of a well-balanced Camellia fertiliser will help to achieve optimum growth, an abundance of quality flowers and keep your Camellias in good health.

For Camellias grown in the ground, an organic based Camellia fertiliser such as “Kahoona” – Apply fertiliser once in autumn, again in spring, summer and winter.

For pots slow release fertilizers such as Osmocote or Bailey’s controlled release fertilisers for Camellias are easy to use and economical. Apply slow release fertiliser only once a year in late winter. If you wish a light application of Kahoona or simular organic fertiliser can be applied to containers of Camellias in autumn. Always cover slow release with mulch.
As with all fertilisers, always follow the instructions on the packet and water in well after applying.

Dianne Hall, January 21st, 2021

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