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Twiggy camellia

Hello, I was hoping for some advice on what to do with this camellia. Half of it looks very dead. Shall I cut these branches off? Am I okay to do it now? Thank you!

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  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,510
    I had one similar, it was either cutting down or dumping,  I cut it to a foot from the ground,  it put out new growth and is gorgeous now.
    Depends on how brave you are and how much you dislike it as it is.
    heres mine.


    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,649
    It's certainly not a thing of beauty as it is.
    The fact you have a silver foliaged plant thriving at the base suggests the reason for it looking so poor.
    Camellias like some shade and lots of moisture to do well - the opposite of what those silvery leaved plants like. Right next to a wall too - very drying for it   :)

    Neutral to acidic soil, and rainwater if you don't have decent tapwater. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,510
    I can’t agree about the plants at the bottom of such a large tree,   If it was a new plant then yes, but an established camellia will take anything, (as in my photo above) I think it’s just never been kept in check over the years.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,649
    I know what you mean @Lyn - but I think the conditions are probably very dry, and that's maybe been an ongoing situation. 
    Or - maybe it's just coming to the end of it's life, although Camellias can live for donkey's years....and more.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Thank you both. I’m not entirely sure how old the tree is as it was here when we bought the house 4 years ago along with another camellia which is on the lawn which looks much more lively! 

    So if I cut off the dead branches and give it a feed will that help? Or will it need it to be totally cut back and given a feed? I am a very, very novice gardener!! 

    Thank you! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,649
    Have a look at the condition of the soil it's in. If it's dry and poor in quality, water it for ages, and then you can add a bit of decent compost, well rotted manure, or similar. 
    Don't feed it though. That doesn't help any plant that's struggling. You can do that in spring if it revives - which it hopefully will   :)

    Cut it back quite hard too. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,510
    If you just cut off the dead branches you’ll have a lop sided tree and still no better growth on the rest of it.
    its up to you, of course, but if it was mine I’d bite the bullet and have it down to the ground, then give it a couple of gallons of water.  Cut the bark on an angle it will start shooting out in no time.  If it doesn’t, then that will be a sign that’s it was dying anyway.
    I've never felt the need to feed a mature tree, their roots will go down deeper to find moisture and any nutrition it needs. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • I cut one of mine back to the ground one year and it bounced back. South facing in front of a wall.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,649
    Yes - but the condition of the soil and the climate, have a lot to do with it, as well as whether there's other planting affecting growth and shade etc. In areas with lots of rainfall, as @Lyn and myself have, soil dries out less quickly too. 
    I'm not saying the other plant is competing for moisture, what I'm saying is that, as it's thriving, the soil could be more favourable for it, therefore the Camellia could have been struggling for a long time. It's clearly been pruned at some time [you can see the stumps] and there's no re growth.
    It also seems to be in a raised [sleeper?] bed, which changes the drainage completely. In the ground is very different from a raised bed, in terms of drainage.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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