Camellia Hedge

noviceatollerMay 24, 2005

A previous owner of our home grew a Camellia hedge in the front yard. I understand that these 9 plants are 30-40 years old and originated from Virginia or the Carolinas. I believe they are Camellia Japonicas. They bloom in late March.

Unfortunately, they were neglected for 20 years before we moved in 4 years ago. They were scraggly, overgrown, and empty in the middle. A few of the plants died and left "holes" in the hedge.

I've pruned them aggressively over the years. Most of the plants are now bushy, around 3' tall and look healthy.

My questions:

1. What are some good choices for plants to fill in my "holes" in the hedge? I'm thinking of fall bloomers, because warm spells in January often confuse the japonicas into starting to bloom.

2. One of the japonicas at one end of the hedge is a very upright grower. Can I fight this tendency with pruning? Should I move the plant in the fall? (It has dark pink blooms. Several very similar plants do well in my neighborhood as specimen plants.)

3. General guidelines on pruning camellias for an "informal hedge"? The plants tend to get shaggy on top and empty toward the bottom. ("leaf drop"?)

4. One of my camellias volunteered on my neighbor's property. He said I'm welcome to dig up the plant, but I doubt he's interested in waiting until the fall. We're having cold rainy weather right now. Should I move it? It's one shoot about 6" tall.

Sorry this post is so long!

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forrestal(Gulf Coast z8b)

Isn't it wonderful to inherit mature camellias on your property! It sounds like you are doing pretty well with rejuvenating the hedge, based on another post where you mentioned a heavy pruning, good work. If the plants are all of the same variety, I would fill the gaps with the same if you can find it, or do some airlayers on the existing ones and plant them in the gaps. I like the effect of massed plants of the same variety in bloom.

On the volunteer, if it is that small, and you can get all the root and keep the ball totally intact, it can probably be dug, but this is really not the best time to mess with a camellia's root system during the growing season. Safer to wait until dormancy if the neighbor will cooperate. I have a few small seedlings popping up, and am waiting.

The upright grower -- if that is its natural growth habit -- won't change with pruning, it will grow upright again. Check those others in the neighborhood and see if they are upright also. If so, you will have to get used to it, but if not, then pruning may make a leggy plant more bushy and spreading.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 10:00PM
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