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Camellia problems

djgrintdjgrint Posts: 34
Hello again,

I bought a small camellia in spring. My soil is very alkaline, but I have a spot under a conifer where it is neutral, so I thought I'd give it a go there. At first it was ok, though it never flowered. The buds dropped/or were eated by squirrels. Since then the leaves started to yellow and drop so I dug it up and potted it in ericaceous compost thinking it would do better.

Now the leaves are schrivelling and turning brown. It has been very hot recently, it's in a sheltered corner but it gets afternoon sun. So is this just sun burn, or is there a bigger problem with this plant?



  • djgrintdjgrint Posts: 34

  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,462
    As well as ericaceous soil, Camellias need plenty of water. 
    Yours wouldn't have got that competing with a conifer and probably won't have it now, as terracotta pots dry out very quickly. They can cope with some sun providing they get the moisture, but yours is now dehydrated and  maybe sunburnt too.
    If you can, dunk the whole pot in a big bucket of water. If you can submerge it, wait for the air bubbles to stop. If you can't, leave it in there until the compost surface is properly moist and them find it a home in the shade to give it chance to recover.  Keep it well watered, especially for the next  2 to 3 months, which is when the flower buds form and  you may get some flowers next spring. :)
  • djgrintdjgrint Posts: 34
    Ok so more water! I've been checking the compost and thought it hadn't dried out. I've been watering with rain water giving it a good soak every few days. Hopefully it'll come back.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,989
    Totally the wrong environment for it I'm afraid, when in a pot. You can grow them in the shelter of other shrubs and trees, but only if they're in the ground, and you live in a wet area so that the moisture penetrates consistently. They grow very well round here in all sorts of locations, but that's because the soil and climate suit them.  
    Alkaline soil is no good, but neutral is also fine, as long as the other factors are there. Sun is also fine in moderation, but not early morning sun when buds can be affected by frosts which then thaw rapidly. New foliage can get frazzled by strong sun so they're better with less exposure to midday sun too. 

    You won't get flowers successfully if it's dehydrated at the wrong time of year as already said, but the most important thing is to get that into a soil based medium, with some ericaceous compost added, thoroughly moistened as described, and into a shaded spot. It will probably recover if you're vigilant over the next few months. 

    If you can't submerge it, put it into another shallow container, water with a full can of water, and then let it soak up everything. Then keep it well watered and it should hopefully produce some new foliage.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,647
    edited June 2021
    As it can't go out in your soil you need to find it a much bigger glazed ceramic pots or a plastic pot so the moisture stays in the compost and root ball and doesn't get absorbed and evaporated thru the pot.  Give it a saucer too during the warm months.

    There are camellias here growing in full sun and perfectly happy but they do need good soil depth to get their roots down deep, the right kind of neutral to acid soil and plenty of water, particularly when forming the flower buds for next year - August thru autumn.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,989
    Yes - definitely needs a better pot @Obelixx. I forgot to say that  :)
    Terracotta is lovely, but no use for plants that need to hold onto moisture. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • djgrintdjgrint Posts: 34
    I see. I thought they needed the classic 'moist but well drained' medium, but sounds like they need a wetter environment.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,989
    Yes - they need good drainage, but when they're in pots, they'll become stressed more easily if allowed to dry out too often, and without enough moisture in the pot's soil, any subsequent water can often just run through without being taken up, making the problem worse. That's the reason for submerging the pot as @Buttercupdays describes.  In the ground, the root system of an established shrub is well enough developed so they can cope with dry spells.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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