Camellia problem

greenlola(z9TX)February 15, 2008

I have a 3 year old camellia that produces lots of buds that never open......they fall off. What's wrong with it?

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

It could be one of several things. First, Make sure that the soil around the plant remains evenly moist at all times. Too dry or too wet conditions can affect the buds. During winter, the plant is dormant but not dead. It can do with less water but it still needs some so, if the sprinkler is off and the weather is dry, water it in order to prevent large fluctuations in soil moisture.

The weather can also be an issue, specially when the temperatures fluctuate all over the map. If the temps warm up and then collapse below freezing, this can damage the buds. Buds are damaged at tewmperatures near 10-15 degrees. The opposite is true as well.. if the temperatures are low and then they warm up quickly, bud drop can result. So basically, large fluctuations (up or down) in temperatures can cause problems.

Pests can also be affecting the plant. The camellia bud mite can brown the bud scales, prevents opening of the flower bud and causes bud drop. Miticides applied in mid-May and then again at the end of May can control this pest.

Incorrect use of fertilizers can cause bud drop as well. To harden the plant for winter, make sure that you do not use nitrogen fertilizers late in the year. Stop fertilizing around August.

I am having that problem in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area right now because the temperatures keep reaching for highs in the 70s and then drop down into the 30s on a single day(or vice-versa). If this is a common occurrence where you live, you may benefit from early flowering camellias instead instead of varieties that bloom in mid to late winter.

Plants that regularly do this, however, may require transplanting to a more protected location, could be a weak variety or one that is planted in deficient soils.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 3:25AM
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I'm having a similar problem. We just moved into a newly built house in November. Professional landscaping was done around October, which included two Shishi-Yashira camellia sasanquas. They are both loaded with buds, and I can even see the pink in them, but no blooms yet. Being that they are supposed to bloom in the late winter, and here we are mid-February, do they still have a chance of blooming? Or is it a delayed growth, because they weren't planted until October? The leaves do not appear to have any scales or pests, but are, for the most part, more yellow-green than green. This landscaper was not cheap - he charged us $110 a piece for each one. He guaranteed his plantings for a year, so might have to call him about it. We are on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and have had a very mild winter, with an occasional frost, but nothing drastic.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:21PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hello, wodka. It could be delayed growth due to changes in weather and/or due to initial planting, that is, moving from the nursery (more protected from the weather) and into the garden (colder/windier/sunnier/etc).

Last winter, my November-December bloomers ended blooming in February/March due to the weather we had in laste 2006. As long as the blooms do not turn brown, you are good to go.

Be aware that ALL plants in general will concentrate on developing a good root system once planted in the ground. When they do that, every part of the plant above ground becomes "secondary". Sometimes they can even skip flowering on their first year. For that reason, consider any growth and any flowers on your first year as nice to have but not required. Once the plant becomes established, it will bloom, grow and leaf out normally.

Maintain the plant well watered and well mulched. You may even skip fertilizing if the fertilizer pellets in most pots are still visible.

Below is a link to the American Camellia Society with more information. Check it out when you have some free time.


Here is a link that might be useful: Camellia Info

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 8:00PM
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Luis, thank you so very much for such good information. I feel better about my camellias having a future! In fact, this evening I noticed 3 buds beginning to actually open and look like real flowers. (There are also quite a few unopened ones that fell to the ground. oh, well...)

One more question, the nursery sold me an oil spray (that you use with the water hose) and said I could use it any time. I was hesitant to use it now, on the buds, and thought I'd give it a little while longer.

Thanks again. I'm so glad I found this site.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:32PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Strange. Why did they sell you that? Oil emulsion sprays, for example, can be used to control scale infestations. Is scale a problem where you live? If so, you would need to spray them with the oil spray in Spring and Fall (when temps are lukewarm, less than 85 degrees). Soap sprays can be used to kill aphids in mid/late spring (during the plant growing season) while mites can be killed using miticides in May.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:58PM
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I told the nursery owner about the camellias not blooming and their pale yellow green leaves. I told her it didn't look like it had scale, just not very healthy looking leaves. That's when she sold me the spray.

Sounds like I didn't need it, huh.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 8:30AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Maybe they thought you had scale and figured it was best to play it safe. Scale is an insect that sucks the juices from the underside of leaves and can cause leaves to turn yellow. Since they could not see the leaves in order to tell if they had insects on the underside, they figured that they might play it safe.

Of course, it is also possible that the nursery where the plants were bought from had suffered from a scale infestation so your plants got it from that place too. We would never know where it came from though as it is a common pest.

When scale sucks the juices from the underside, the top side of the leaf shows splotches of yellow above the injured spot. A white substance secreted by the male forms a cottony mass that sometimes attaches to the underside of the leaf. There are different types of scale and they can be of different colors. Luckily, they are easily controlled by spraying in spring and fall. Two spraying sessions about 10-14 days apart usually take care of the pest.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 1:13PM
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