How To Care For A Camellia Bush
Native to Asia, the camellia bush is a small evergreen shrub that displays simple, serrated, alternately arranged, glossy leaves. The flowers are large and fabulous with six to nine petals, offering colors of white, pink, red and even yellow.
This is an adored plant because a spectacular tea is created from its leaves. Also, by pressing the seeds from the plant, tea oil is provided which is used as cooking oil and sweet seasoning. The camellia bush is highly valued not only in Japan but everywhere else it is grown for their late winter flowering.
These plants are not tolerable at all to calcium rich or chalky soils but prefer those that are acidic. Most species require a lot of water from either irrigation or natural rainfall and they will not survive droughts. Whey choosing the location for your camellia bush, it should receive partial shade, especially from the hot afternoon sun.
When planting your camellia bush from a burlap, you will dig your hole at least three times as large as the root ball, with the same depth. If the burlap on your root ball is synthetic, you will need to take it off and throw it away because it will not decompose. Center the plant into the hold and back-fill with the original soil.
Around the perimeter, create a water ring to help divert water toward the outside roots. This perimeter will encourage nourishment and proper growth. Add a few inches of pulverized bark or compost and water well.
The plant will need to be offered at least one inch of water every week. Ideally, the soil will be kept moist at least 18 inches deep. If you feel the top couple inches of soil getting dry, water again.
Prior to new growth in the spring, you should fertilize with tree and shrub fertilizer. It is recommended to perform a soil test to check for missing or low nutrients and then use a fertilizer that is nutrient specific.
You will want to prune your camellia bush through the entire growing season, beginning in the spring to remove decaying and dead plant matter. If the branches begin getting too crowded, simply cut a few away at the trunk. If you want to encourage new growth, pinch the stem tips and you will see a bushier plant.
Pests And Diseases
- Aphids – These small insects form clusters on new growth. They feed on the juices from the plant and spread quickly. Signs of infection include curling leaves, sooty mold, honeydew, yellowing foliage and stunted growth.
- Thrips – These insects have narrow bodies and have an average lifespan of 45 days. They are typically found eating the plant's stems and foliage.
- Caterpillars – Immature forms of moths and butterflies can be quite destructive to the camellia bush due to their heavy feeding habits.
- Scale Insects – These small insects spend their day piercing the plants with their mouths and sucking out the juices. They are incredibly destructive because they excrete honeydew which results in sooty mold that is attractive to ants.
- Southern Blight – Lesions are created on the plant's stem by this fungus, typically near the soil line. These lesions cause wilting to the plant.
- Powdery Mildew – Inadequate light and low air circulation cause this fungus. Powdery mildew causes the biggest problem when there is a wide range of temperatures every day such as the spring and fall.
- Rusts – These overwinter on spent flowers and plant foliage. They appear as yellow, small pustules on the under portion of the leaves. Rust gets worse during most weather so to control this problem you need to make sure that there is plenty of air flow and keep the foliage dry.