April Dawn Camellia, pretty much a total loss

JCNTNMarch 9, 2012

Kind of bummed out this year by my April Dawn Camellia. It was looking great all last year. It grew very well, and developed 30+ large, healthy looking buds.

But this spring, I've gotten one or two good flowers, all of the rest of the buds open up halfway and fall off. When I pull the buds apart, I can see the petals looks lightly tea stained or something. Just a tinge of brown on them, around the edges. Especially at the edge that connects them to the bud.

I've read that poor watering in the summer leads to spring time bud drop. And last summer was a very hot/dry one. And the camellia is in a container, which I know requires more water than if it were planted in the ground. So I guess the answer is to water it twice a day this summer.

I hope that's the solution. I'd hate to wait another year and see the same result.

Anybody have any other suggestions?

The shrub looks otherwise healthy. The leaves are nice and shiny and feel healthy and strong. The growth rate is strong. Everything looks perfect, except the buds are falling off.

I have it on the north west corner of my house. It gets full shade until noon or so, then full sun for a few hours, then dappled sun until sunset.

I left it in the container so I could move it around to find the better spot for planting. Maybe I should move it over to the east side of the house. Won't look as nice or be as visible over there, but I'd rather have a healthy plant than a sick one.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

If the tea stain that you are talking about gets larger as the temperatures increase and time passes, it may be a fungal infection. Please check the information/pictures on the link below by the American Camellia Society. You can see more information here too: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0416/

Bud drop on the other hand can be caused by several things. One common culprit is the camellia bud mite. If you detect a mite infestation when opening buds that have fallen then use a miticide (best applied when buds have set in the Fall).

Another cause is environmental factors such as (a) temperatures that girate wildly, first high then low and everywhere in between or (b) soil that is not evenly moist but rather is allowed to get too dry, then gets wet, then dry again, etc. Moving it to the east side location and providing more uniform moist soil might help with these environmental problems.

I had a pretty severe drought last summer too and that resulted in a large reduction in the number of buds but there was no bud drop and, so far, the japonicas have not shown any bloom problems. The blooms, however, are now starting to open so I am crossing my fingers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Camellia Petal Blight Info by the ACS

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 4:13AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

East walls are not good for winter- and spring-blooming camellias unless shaded from morning sun during frost. If you go ahead and get the plant in the ground you will not have to worry about what is going on inside the pot.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:01PM
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I think it may have been Alexander Pope who said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I will be the first to admit that, at best, all I have is a little knowledge of, plus several decades of experience with, camellias, living in the ground as well as in pots during Zone 7b, now classed Zone 8a, winters. I know what I've observed among slightly more than one hundred named cultivars as well as seedlings--both japonica and sasanqua, plus a few other camellia species.

'April Dawn' is an introduction of internationally known camellia authority, Dr. Clifford Parks, and is available from David and Kai Mei Parks' Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, NC, as well as through various retail nursery outlets. The Camellia Forest Website indicates that 'April Dawn' resulted from a cross between _Camellia japonica_ 'Berenice Boddy' and _Camellia japonica_ 'Herme'--two well-known, standard cultivars famous for their beauty and their cold-hardiness.

In the Southeast, we've had a warmer than normal winter (Knock on wood). It's springtime here in Zone 8a, but we still could have a little more freezing weather. It's not been very long since the infamous Easter Freeze that brought devastation to many exotic ornamentals around here.
To make a long story short, what I'm getting around to saying is that I have several 'Berenice Boddy' camellias in the landscape, and the one closest to our house is exhibiting the same problems as those afflicting JCNTN 7a's 'April Dawn.' A case of like mother, like daughter, or son, perhaps? The 'Berenice Boddy' was getting ready to bloom when our one really cold night (17 degrees F.) occurred several weeks ago. That wintry blast seems to have knocked this otherwise super-hardy camellia's flowering out. It has hardly bloomed since then--due, I would think, to the timing of the cold snap, the flowering state of the camellia, and the dry weather of the previous growing season. I will, however, not claim my opinion to be Gospel Truth because I don't really know Gospel Truth on this matter. I just know what I've observed, which leads me to make this judgment of JCNTN 7a's problem with 'April Dawn.'

The problem sounds like cold damage, pure and simple. The plant is containerized and has been exposed to the fluctuating temperatures of a Southeastern winter--up one day, down the next. As bboy says, get that damned plant into a permanent place in the ground where its roots are warmer and happier. If you cannot bring yourself to plant it somewhere, by all means, don't water it twice a day. You'll drown it, for Heaven's sake.

Don't over-analyze the problem. Do something. Act. _Carpe diem_. And put this in your pipe and smoke it: Do y'all have petal blight up there in TN?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:14AM
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Thanks for all the input. I'm starting to think maybe this was caused by the cold snap we had in early February. That caused me to lose the first bud that started to open. Even though I had the Camellia under a sheet, the bud still died in the freeze.

I noticed this morning that my 3 surviving flowers are all on lower branches, which seems like maybe the cold played a role.

I don't think it's petal blight because of what I've read about petal blight, and the pictures I've seen. It sounds like petal blight destroys flowers in a matter of 48 hours. My flowers look much less damaged than what I see of petal blight, and they usually fall off before they even open, or right as the bud starts to open.

I have a couple of pictures if that will help.

Here is the most recent flower to drop. This one is by far the worst one I've seen yet. It has the most obvious damage. All of the other affected flowers have less visible damage than this: http://i.imgur.com/trZVy.jpg

This is one of the good, surviving flowers, though it does have some obvious signs of damage on the side. It still feels healthy and strong and has a good connection to the branch: http://i.imgur.com/xdHyC.jpg

You should be able to copy/paste those URLs to see the pictures.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 2:18PM
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From your description of problem, it seemed pretty obvious that jay_7bsc was correct in stating that it was cold damage to flower buds. Your photos confirmed this. If it was my plant, I would follow his advice and get it in the ground. As jay mentioned, do not plant on east side of house if the sun can shine on it early in morning while flower buds are still frozen. It has been my experience that your type of bud damage occurs more often when there is rapid fluctuation in temperatures. They can withstand colder temperatures as long as the temperatures remain more constant. I have also noticed that white, or light color, flower buds are more tender and are more prone to get cold damage.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Thanks, camellias1_roses2 and everyone else!

I'll assume this was cold damage and get it in the ground asap and hope next year is more consistent in temperature.

I do have one other question.

I said the rest of the plant looked healthy, but I just noticed something else yesterday. If you look in the second picture, some of the leaves have black/purplish spots on them. Do you think this is also cold or maybe sun damage?

I've read that black spots on Camellia can be anything from last year's sun damage to fungal/bacterial infection or worse.

The fact that the leaves appear otherwise healthy, and the black spots aren't raised or textured makes me hopeful this might just be last year's sun damage.

We had an intensely hot summer in 2011.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:58PM
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We are in southeast PA, almost in zone 6, and I have 4 camellias which I've had in the ground for 2 winters with no protection, not even mulch. If you know the variety is hardy and the issue is watering, why not plant them? There are varieties not hardy in zone7a, though, but most japonicas do well here, don't they?
They also require an acid soil, but you knew that. I'm including a picture of an unknown variety that came as a freebie with the other 3. It began to bloom in December but the blooms turned brown after a hard freeze. It's blooming now...I took the picture today. If you know what it is, all suggestions are welcome.

This post was edited by pjb448 on Sat, Apr 20, 13 at 19:14

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:13PM
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RE: pjb448--That looks to me like it might be a Taylor's Perfection.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2014 at 10:54PM
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