How often to water newly planted camellias

idixierose(z8b Coastal SC)January 23, 2009

My first week on the job, I plant 40 huge camellias -- 32" rootballs, plus a couple of 60" rootballs.

I know I need to keep the soil moist, but not too wet. I've been doing this, but then the boss starts quizzing me, which creates doubt in my mind and I start wondering just how often should I be watering these big camellias.

I check the soil and it's damp. Maybe I should be misting the foliage every day? Every other day?

The camellias are planted in typical South Carolina Lowcountry soil -- on the sandy side, but a few of the holes have red clay.

I've planted lots of small camellias, but these big ones are new for me.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Water the soil and not the leaves as watering the leaves can promote fungal leaf diseases. Your aim is to keep the soil evenly moist, which is -obviouslly- hard to do. To tell when to water the soil for sure, use the finger method: insert a finger to a depth of 4" into the soil (the mulch does not count) and water if it feels almost dry or dry. Also mark on your wall calendar the days when you watered. To help maintain the soil moist, cover the root area with mulch, about 3-4" of any type of acidic mulch, up to drip line or a little beyond. Plants in sandy soil need about 1/3 to 1/2 more water than plants in clayish soil. Continue watering with the finger method for about 2 weeks. Then review the information on your wall calendar. Determine how often you water and set the sprinkler to do the same on the same frequency (every three/four/etc days). If temperatures change by 15 degrees or more and stay there, consider rechecking using the finger method.

Beware of moisture and temperatures problems this winter. I live in Zone 8a and our winter temperatores fluctuate a lot. Temperatures can zoom to almost 80 and the crash to the 20-30s. We can also go over two weeks without moisture or we can get a little rain each week.

This winter try to maintain the soil moist as best you can with the help of the winter method. During future winters, you can water much less than the finger method suggests because the plants are dormant and well established. But just because they are dormant, do not think you do not need to water. One dry winter season ago, I turned the sprinkler off and forgot. I suddendly noticed that most of my camellias started browning the leaves! Oops!

The part that I cannot help you with is exactly how much to water to apply to the soil for plants of this size. I try to make sure that each watering will keep the soil moist to a depth of 14-18" but perhaps someone else can advise for such large rootballs.

There is Coast South Carolina Camellia Society in Mount Pleasant that you can try to contact. Wesley Fisher is their president. You can reach them at (843) 388-0329, at or at the link below.

Does that help you?


Here is a link that might be useful: Coastal Carolina Camellia Society Website

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 12:35AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you were to use misting in an attempt to compensate for root loss, as is done with cuttings you would have to rig up an intermittent system that kept the leaves constantly moist - starting from right after the shrubs were planted.

The idea would be to reduce transpiration and dehydration by keeping the leaves moist. Long periods of drying out of the leaves between misting would defeat the purpose.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 2:48PM
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