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Unknown Red Camellia needing some care and attention.

Again, apologies for the poor picture quality, hopefully everyone can still make sense of the images.

We have a rather large unknown variety of red flowering Camellia that has seen better days. It sits tucked in a corner position between the back of our garage and a large holly tree and hedging that sits on our boundary. The picture is taken facing south and the shrub gets plenty of sun on its top section. It is approximately 10ft tall and about 6ft wide. It looks pretty bald on its lower, shaded section. Last year it  had a neighbouring laurel removed to make way for a water butt and wood shed. I am now assuming that the lower bald sections will remain bald. 🙁 Will it ever leaf up lower down?

Its leaves are also starting to look rather yellow (or maybe I am just starting to pay it more attention!) Any advice on what I could do to make it happier?

If it is to remain bald on its lower section, could anyone suggest something I may be able to plant to make this shaded area of the garden more attractive? Could I climb something else up the bare branches in the shade?

I dont think the cement mixer is adding much to the overall look of this section of garden either! I will have to move it.



  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 6,713
    edited February 2020
    We have a similar situation with one of our old, established and very large red camillias, @justandnobodyelse .  The advice we were recently given was to cut the dead and yellow leafed sections off (after flowering have finished this Spring).  I would suggest that you gradually cut the taller section and bring the height of the shrub down to just below the level of your shed roof.  Then give the plant a good camellia feed and continue to water and feed the plant throughout the summer.  New leaves should appear from the bottom although they may take a few years to catch up with the rest of the bush. I am attaching a small view of the dead and yellowing sections of our camellia.Perhaps other gardeners will have different suggestions.
  • We inherited a camellia growing next to and higher than our conservatory. I had my OH cut it down to 6". It grew back to it's original size, Several years later we did it again. It's coming on nicely. I say Fortune favours the Brave!
  • Just to add- as we were neutral as to whether it lived or died made the choice of cutting it down very easy.
    I agree with feeding advise.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    We also cut a camelia by half and it has sprung back over about two years.
  • My parents did the same with a large C. ‘Donation’ (?) when they moved ... it was totally blocking their northfacing kitchen window. 

    They cut it down to about knee height, fed it and it sprang into life and never looked back ... covered with blooms every spring. 

    After that they kept it at kitchen windowsill height ... it lasted for at least another 40 years.  😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Camellias can be cut down to 2/3 ft and they will regrow if fed and watered. The yellowing of the leaves indicate lack of light and nutrients. They are acid loving plants so a dose of ericaceous feed would be beneficial.
  • Thankyou @Guernsey Donkey2 @Mrs-R3 @Fire @Dovefromabove @Joyce Goldenlily for all of your helpful advice.

    This is usually the first of our shrubs to flower here in Manchester. Once these have finished i will get the Secateurs at the ready and give it a trim, followed by a feed. Can anyone recommend a good feed for Camellias? A Quick google search reveals different options on slow release granular feeds, liquid camellia feeds and general ericacious feeds. Do any of you favour a particular type or brand? Should i mulch the base of the shrub with anything in particular?

    Feeding and pruning i can help with, but will the lower light levels/shade lower down become a problem? If i reduce the shrubs height, say to the garage, the lower section currently is in more shade compared to its upper branches that i hope to remove. Will this matter?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,159
    Epsom salts.  Dissolve 15ml in 5 litres of water and then pour over your camellia using the spray rose on your watering can.  This will give and instant foliar feed to the camellia and the run off will feed the roots.   Epsom salts contain magnesium which, when deficient, leads to chlorosis or yellowing of the leaves.   

    Another problem is iron deficiency so find a good feed for ericaceous plants and apply it according to the instructions.  It needs to include chelated or sequestered iron.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for the info @Obelixx regarding the Epsom salts. Does it need to be a dry day when applied, or does it not matter if the plant is already wet? We have been having lots of rain!
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,159
    I expect it helps not to have the foliar feed washed off straightaway so a dry day is best.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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