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New Camellia - Watering advice

ShooglesShoogles Posts: 14

I planted a Camellia Japonica 'Kramer Supreme' earlier this year.  It's doing really well.  My concern is that although it is growing quickly, I am having to water it ever other day to stop the new growth from wilting (see the picture) even though the soil feels moist to touch.

I'm giving it the best part of a watering can when I do water it and the new shoots then perk up again within a couple of hours.

The bed where I've planted it had a large (i.e. 25 foot) leylandii which I had felled and then the roots ground out very thoroughly.  It's probably quite free-draining (which I thought camellias like) and I've made sure the soil is suitably acid.

Do I need to worry about this, or should I just keep watering it as I have been?  Will it suffer irreparably if I let it wilt for any length of time?


Last edited: 12 June 2017 19:32:25


  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,062

    Maybe you ought to have loosened up the root-ball before planting ; two garden forks can work wonders.

    Prising the roots stimulates new growth , as nursery/garden centre plants can be very potbound . Keep watering (preferably rainwater) until the plant sends out adventitious roots . This will be indicated when the new growth stops wilting . Keep watering for entire first year , even in the winter months as this will encourage bud formation for next Spring ; good luck !

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,062

    PS :- Looks like a very nice plant !

  • ShooglesShoogles Posts: 14

    Thanks for that encouragement, Paul.  I don't recall that it was particularly pot-bound but I know I am always unsure as to how forceful it is ok to be when picking at the roots before planting.  It may be that I err on the side of caution so I will experiment with being more daring in future. 

    And, yes, I think it's going to grow into a real beauty! 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,081

    The problem might be what was there before it Shoogles. The leylandii drains all the moisture and nutrients from the soil, leaving it malnourished. It might struggle to retain the moisture, although you still want the soil free draining. It can be tricky to achieve that in those circumstances.

    Camellias like good rich soil, so it would be worth regularly applying well rotted manure or good compost ( or both)  will help with that. A slow release fertiliser like Blood, Fish and bone will help too. Ideally, the planting hole should have been two or three times the size of the root ball, with plenty of that mix added, but if you don't want to lift it, a regular mulch should be enough. It also might be a bit dry because it's near that wall, which can create a bit of a rain shadow. Again,  a mulch after watering will help.  

    Looks a grand plant though, so I hope you can keep it healthy. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ShooglesShoogles Posts: 14

    Thanks, Fairygirl.  I dug in 2 full bags of ericaceous compost to the plot before planting so I'm hoping that's got the richness of the soil ok.  I used growmore rather than FBB but I trust that will be ok.  I'll follow your advice about keeping it mulched.

    It is growing like crazy so I'm hoping that's a good sign.  Since planting (end of April/early May, I think it was) and since the end of the flowering, the new shoots are at least 4 inches long.  I'm hoping that by spending a bit more to buy a larger, more established plant, that it will be resilient as well.

    And yes, Choe, it's a wateringcan-full every day at the moment! 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,081

    Growmore isn't really ideal, but won't do any harm. You could use proprietary feeds for Camellias, and  you may need to do that  if the soil isn't great, for a while anyway. Each spring you could add a slow release general fertiliser (B,F&B) and that will be sufficient if the soil's good by then. I should have asked if you have other planting nearby too - that will also deplete water and nutrients, so keep an eye on the general condition of the bed/border.

    A bigger, more established plant can actually be harder to work with, but so far, it seems you're doing fine.If you're needing to water it that much, you will need to address the soil long term, because the soil is key to good growing for shrubs like Camellias. If you were in an area with high rainfall, it wouldn't matter quite so much, but if the soil isn't retaining water, it makes it difficult.  I'd make sure you add some decent soil based compost (or the aforementioned well rotted manure) to the bed, rather than just compost. Leaf mould or composted bark would also be good, and you can apply that as the mulch. You can do that on a regular basis throughout the year- especially in long, dry spells. Worms will also help drag it down into the soil. It's useful to put a decent application of that down in autumn after some rainfall when the ground's moist.  

    Anything that improves the soil and the moisture retaining properties will be very helpful  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,062
    Remember to try to use rainwater ; if you live in a hard water area , your tap-water will defeat the object of adding ericaceous compost to your soil .
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