Transplanted a Large Camellia - Is It Dead?

camelliaalan(7)April 10, 2010

In a recent storm one of our large camellias (about 10 feet tall) toppled over, and we had it moved to a different spot on the lawn where the soil is less "soft".

I believe the camellia is a japonica, but I'm not sure.

It's been over 3 weeks, and the leaves have browned and turned brittle. The stems, though, are still green inside so I'm assuming the camellia is in shock.

I have watered and mulched it. The soil beneath the mulch has remained cool and moist.

Should I do any pruning, or should I just leave it alone and watch for stem die-back and then prune those dead stems?

Also, how long might it be before I can tell for sure that the camellia has made it?

Thanks much for any advice!


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I've never been able to get an established one to survive transplanting. Going crispy is not a good sign.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 2:57AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I have moved Camellia sasanqua successfully. But not C. japonica.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 2:58AM
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I have moved many-- sucessfuly, follow what I posted on page 2 under posting of "Camellia Murderer"-- If you do it like that, you will have a high sucess rate, now some folks will sacrifice the plant cause they dont want to prune it, wich is fine-- they will just have a dead plant.
You need to prune the top BEFORE you dig.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 12:20PM
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Thanks for the posts!

I wish I'd posted before the transplant, but unfortunately I did not.

I have been watering, and the soil (beneath the mulch) is cool and moist, but the leaves are indeed crispy.

I've gently cut several branches and each still shows green, but there are no more healthy looking leaves.

Based on what I've read, I've not done any branch pruning.

I did feed the plant some "camellia food" I found at Home Depot.

Is there anything further I ought to do to help the plant?

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Never feed / fertilize a freshly transplanted plant. Roots have been severed- thats a big deal.

Good Luck, hope it lives

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 10:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Alan, it's long been established that top pruning before digging and transplanting is very counter productive for the plant. It 'sounds' like it makes sense (cut the roots:cut the top to compensate), but plant physiology doesn't back it up.

You see, there is only one source of energy for making new roots...actually many sources and they are the leaves. Leaves and only the leaves are what create, through the process of photosynthesis, the carbon resources (energy)required to grow. If you prune off a bunch of the top growth, then the energy production is diminished enormously. Not only that, but the plant will be induced to expend unnecessary energy on the making of new leaves instead of new roots!

Located in all of those branch ends (the growing tips) are hormones that dictate to a plant where to initiate new growth. By leaving those tips uncut, the plant is able to devote energy to root production. If you cut back the top, those hormonal pathways will be rerouted to shoot (above ground) development.

Even though we can't see the regeneration of new roots, it happens very rapidly and very aggressively, as long as we have followed other proper planting specifications.

If you've simply cut here and there, perhaps to remove broken branches and such, that's fine. You've done your homework.

By the way, the use of pruning paint has been discarded as good horticultural/arboricultural practice for practically a generation!

To add to the problems that your specific plant had is that its root system was ripped from the soil system, rather than being cut cleanly. Big problem. It's size makes it a more difficult transplant, too. There are several 'rule-of-thumb' measurements to go by regarding the size of the root ball required. One that I usually use is simple to remember: for every one inch of trunk DIAMETER (not circumference), you'll need twelve inches of root ball diameter. Take the trunk measurement about 4 inches above the soil level, which will typically be a wide part of the trunk. So, if the trunk of your camellia was, say, three inches across, then you'd want to dig a root ball that was around 36 inches across. The height of the plant makes no difference.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 4:45AM
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camellias do not have a agressive root system-I have grown literally hundreds of different types of plants(trees ,shrubs, etc..) in containers and in ground. And literally THOUSANDS of camellias both in containers and in the ground, and I can assure they do not have an agressive root system. I have RARELY lost a camellia I have transplanted in the ground.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Also I might add---most expierenced nurseryman will tell you generally that the top of a tree is a reflection of the bottom and vise versa. If the root system is not healthy , the foliage will reflect that & vis versa. I highly doubt you can transplant a good size plant with severing a large portion of its root system and leaving its canopy intact and it will live. Good luck though.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 3:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sorry, nursery folks and other plant professionals who have been keeping up with developments in their profession know that pruning to compensate for root loss is a practice that should not be done.

Even field-grown nursery stock, where the vast majority of the roots are left behind in the nursery upon digging, is not cropped 'to compensate'. The leaves are the root making factories.

Large trees and shrubs are field dug ALL the time without pruning, dawgone. Research and studies have proven over and over that pruning the top not only does not help transplanting success, but hinders it. This is not new stuff, dawgone. Sheesh, I remember refusing shipment of a tractor trailer load of trees and shrubs (field grown, mostly) that had been systematically pruned. That was 20 years ago. That was the only time I had to do that, by the way. None of the other nurseries I've dealt with over the years were that much behind the times.

Let me repeat what I said about the camellia root system. I can see how you were. Though camellias are not known for their 'aggressive root systems' (your words) in the general sense....they WILL begin the process of root regeneration aggressively (meaning quickly). That is, as long as the plant isn't handicapped by a massive amount of foliage loss by the folly of top pruning.

I'll send you some educational links when I have a bit more time. I can tell that you aren't going to believe me, lol.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Well I wil say this--

The " agressive " term was taken from the 4th paragraph of your last post.

Realy- I just post my expierence,trying to help folks-- I can only go by what I know from first hand expierence-that means Me actually doing the things I stated, I have done all those things I have posted with the sucess I mentioned. Maybe I got lucky all them times , though I highly doubt it.

Its not that I do or dont believe you- that doesnt matter to me-- & it shouldnt to you either.

The folks here can do things however they please, wont hurt my feelings one bit!!!! I will continue to do things they way that has been sucessful for me for decades and be satisfied with my results

And dont get the idea that Im mad or have bad feelings for you just cause we view things differently- I think more of folks that will stand up for what they believe in than anyone who just keeps silent like some of the other posters on other forums-- dont read into whats not there!!

Im happy!!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 3:19PM
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