bringing Camellia back to life

southerncrossagMarch 7, 2007

I have recently moved two advanced Camellia's. Unfortunately it had to be done in the height of our Australian Summer and at the end of our 1 in 100 year drought which obviously was not ideal circumstances. Even though I have kept up with watering and regular applications of seaweed solution both Camellia's have lost all foliage and show no signs of new growth. Interestingly though if you scrape at the bark it is still green underneath. Does this mean that the plants are still alive and I should not give up on them and if so when are they likely to show new signs of new growth as it has now been a month or two since I moved them

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Hello, southerncrossag. I have not had to move any camellia myself under the extreme Australian conditions that you described so this is what I would do if I were in your place.

If the bark is still green, I would assume that the plant is still alive, albeit suffering from transplant shock BIG time. The plant probably does not have the same root system that it used to have so I hope that the plant is now putting all its energies rebuilding it. However, it bothers me that it dropped all the leaves. I hope it has not decided to shut down completely.

I would purchase a local chemical product for transplant shock (they are sold in liquid form at most local nurseries) and mix it with the seaweed solution per label directions/schedule.

I would also stop any plans that you might have to fertilize with anything stronger than seaweed; you can restart that again when the plant has grown some leaves in Spring. Since Fall is approaching, stop feeding seaweed at your usual time so the plant can go into dormant mode when it sees fit.

Super-important: Make sure the plant gets morning sun. Maintain constant soil moisture levels; do not let the soil go dry then get wet and go dry again. Those dry/wet cycles are not good for the plant. Since the plant has fewer roots, also consider supplying less qty of water than usual.

The best way to address watering issues in these complicated conditions is to check the soil moisture manually and to water only when need (do not use an automatic sprinkler system if you can help it). Every 2-3 days, insert a finger to a depth of about 5-7cms and take appropriate action depending on whether it feels dry, moist or wet. Continue doing this thru Fall and Winter. Lengthen the number of days when you see visual signs of recovery. Go back to "your" normal levels/frequency when the plant has leafed out.

Australian Fall/Winter are going to throw a curve on all of this as the plant may go dormant in preparation for winter. It will need less water and nutrients but, as long as you see some green in the stems, consider it to be alive. If curious, check one or two more times max before the start of winter.

I wish I could give you a time table of when/if it will recover or re-grow leaves but I cannot. My gardenias once died to the ground and suffered for almost four months before I saw leaves grow back.

Be patient and monitor it frequently. I would give it until the middle of your next Spring. Good luck,

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 2:36AM
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