Grow

Care for camellias after flowering

Camellia-Valentine

Late winter is the season when camellias are at their best. While the early-blooming sasanquas have pretty much finished for the year, the shade-loving japonica camellias are at their peak and the large-flowered reticulatas are trying to prove they are the showiest of all. So, while camellias are top of mind, give some thought to how you are going to care for them for the rest of the year.

Feeding and Mulching

Camellias make their major spurt of growth after flowering, so it’s best to feed when the last flowers are coming to an end. Of course, most sasanquas stopped blooming weeks ago, but the end of winter is still the optimum time to give them a feed. Use a specific camellia food (such as Thrive Granular). Potted camellias should be fed with a plant food that’s safe for pots. Yates Acticote would be a good choice.

Occasionally give the camellias a treat with some organic plant food like Nitrosol Organic. This will stimulate biological activity in the soil.

Camellias have shallow root systems that can dry out readily during summer so, after fertilising, spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Avoid direct contact with the stem of the camellia.

Pruning

Even if you never pruned your camellias they’d continue to grow perfectly happily, but there are times when the secateurs or clippers should come out. Sasanqua camellias are often used as a formal hedge or shaped as a topiary and an end-of-winter haircut will give them a fresh start for the season. Hedges will also need to be trimmed occasionally over the growing season to retain a neat outline. Japonica camellias can be pruned now to restrict their size or to thin crowded branches and open up the plant.

Reticulata camellias are best left to develop their natural tree shape but under-pruning, removing lower branches to create a clear trunk, can sometimes improve their appearance.

Watering

Established camellias are remarkably drought tolerant but the plants will perform at their best if water stress is kept to a minimum. Mulching, as mentioned, will help.

Potted camellias will appreciate being grown in self-watering pots such as the Yates Tuscan Edge range. These will hold extra moisture that the roots can access.

Pests and problems

Use Yates Bug Oil to treat scale pests and Yates Insect & Mite Killer to control mites.Some camellias are susceptible to bacterial diseases that gain entry through pruning cuts. Large cuts should be dressed with Yates Bacseal after pruning.


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