Hydroculture Camelias and Establishing new roots and leaves
Hi Camelia planters,
I am living in China and last week I ordered 3 Camelia seedlings over the internet from a company here (they are BiLuoChun tea plants http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biluochun ). I really enjoy the tea so I wanted to see what the plants were like. I also have many indoor hydroculture projects on the go - a planted aquarium and various house plants growing completely in water.
The seedlings I ordered were apparently 1 year old, but they look older to me, which isn't a big problem. They arrived late due to the delivery service being terribly disorganized, and so they had been in the dark, with muddy roots wrapped in clingfilm for 6 days by the time they reached me - something I am very upset about, but anyway, I still want to give it a try. There was stil quite a bit of moisture around the roots so that was okay. They also arrived without any leaves so I'm hoping they have enough internal reserves to send out new roots.
I soaked all three for a couple of hours before potting them. Two of the bushes I am attempting to convert to hydroculture and another I have planted in loamy soil with decent drainage lower in the pot, but I was a little short of soil so I added a layer of clay mud to the top which I wanted to coat some of the rootball emerging above the soil surface with so that it didn't dry out too quickly. I am aware that my resources and conditions are less than ideal, but I really thought the seedlings would be a lot smaller.
I have 3 main questions for anyone who may be able to help in the slightest:
1) Do you think 6 days inside a box without any leaves or soil/water, but wrapped in clingfilm would have done any serious damage to the seedlings - severely damaging any chances of them surviving even in optimum growing conditions? I hear that they are hardy plants which can be pruned bare.
2) Is there a better way to convert them to hydroculture so that one can see their roots than the route I am taking (see photos)? Much of their rootballs had been damaged which I hear is good for encouraging water roots to develop.
3) Is there something extra I can do to encourage new leaf growth? I am nervous about adding chemicals to the solutions because I want to give new roots the best chances of developing.
Any help would be much appreciated.