Questions from a newbie to Camellias.

TsubakiBoyJune 8, 2011

Hi all. New to Camellias and GardenWeb!

Dug around the net and found nothing, decided to finally ask the more experienced Camellias carers in here from the SF Bay Area, or in general.

Apologies for the number of questions before hand, I had these bouncing around in my head for days...

1. When is Camellia Japonica "buying season". Or more precisely, when do the nurseries + bigbox stores start carrying more varieties? I am guessing Fall? Total guess based on stores doing better selling flowerings plants. I was able to recently pick up a Kramer's Supreme and a Nuccio's Pearl from Home Depot but they looked like they had been around for a while judging from the amount of root showing from the soil being blown off by the Home Depot hoses.

2. When exactly should I feed the plants? I picked up a box of EB Stone ACR plant food and was surprised to see that I was to only feed the plants 3 times a year? Sorry - I was brought up on Miracle Gro.

3. Is Cottonseed Meal as wonderful as it sounds? Seems like I can mix in alot of it into the planting/potting mix and it could only make things wonderful. Also, where are you guys buying this stuff? I can't seem to find it anywhere locally.

4. I am planning on potting 1-gal plants I already have in my shaded atrium to grow them a little "hardier" in preparation for eventual ground planting. I am also creating shade in my yard but its going to take 2-3 years, I am taking my time. Wondering what you guys use for a potting mix. I was thinking about throwing 100% EB Stone ACR Planting Mix in with them, no idea if that is a good idea. Maybe throw a handful of cottonseed meal in? No idea.


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Local nurseries (small, medium and large sized ones) replenish their camellias inventories in the Fall or Winter. To determine exactly or more or less when, I suggest you visit the store(s) and ask. For example, I notice that Lowes gets camellia shipments on or after October. Whatever inventory remains, it remains until it is sold. Interestingly, running low or selling out of the inventory does not trigger new deliveries from the wholesalers. Because of that, there is not a japonica (only) buying season. The store will get all the camellia shipments at about the same time, regardless of whether the camellia is a japonica, sasanquas, etc.

Certain local stores may have a large inventory and that inventory may last thru the year. That probably varies from city to city.

A recently planted camellia will not need much fertilizer because the potting mix that comes with the shrubs will likely contain those round fertilizer pellets. The American Camellia Society suggests three applications from March thru September using three types of fertilizers. The 1st application should use a high nitrogen fertilizer; the 2nd application should use a moderate nitrogen/phosphate fertilizer; the third application should use a high phosphate fertilizer. Or you could add 1/2 cup to 1 cup or cottonseed meal monthly between March and September (do not feed if the temperatures are warm, say, above 90). You can get specific suggestions for CA from the Napa Valley Chapter of the American Camellia Society; see the link below. Most Miracle Gro formulations are not good fertilizers for camellias as they are too high on nitrogen. A slow-release general-purpose (chemical or organic) fertilizer will do better.

Cottonseed Meal can be purchased in organic minded plant nurseries stores and in small-to-medium size local plant nurseries. The big stores rarely carry it. The Napa Valley Chapter of the ACS might be able to recommend places to get cottonseed meal.

There are many commercial camellia/azalea potting mixes sold that you could use. Or could make your own. See the following posts:

You could fertilize monthly with cottonseed meal during the growing season or apply half the amount of your Miracle Gro every two weeks. From October through February, apply a general purpose 2-10-10 fertilizer.


Here is a link that might be useful: Napa Valley Camellia Society

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Louis is very knowledgeable about what he said. What does acr stand for? I can guess Azalea, camelia ? But please let us know. You said you were gonna grow the camellias in an atrium is this like a real inside atrium? Because if you want to get them acclimated they need to be outside. If you are in California you may locate an actual nursery which would have a better assortment or variety of camellias. Since some bloom earlier than others some nurseries would get in the sansanquas first then start with the japonicas. sometimes it is what is blooming is what is selling. There is a Nucio's nursery somewhere in California but I don't know the location. There are many post on this forum and ma ny people have raved about They are hybridizers and sellers of many different varieties. Some grow better in different locations so do some more research. You may decide you like a special flower color or shape There are only 3 basic colors white ,pink and red but the number of combinations of these 3 colors are endless then the different shapes singles , doubles, formal etc etc. I know I am being long winded. you said you were planting for shade. I too when I first planted my camellias about 5 years past had very little shade. So I planted camellias and I planted trees. Some trees grow faster than other. I wanted pines. I wanted quick growth. The pines have not done well. But I also kept the mulch heavy made sure I watered regularly and I also planted redbud trees they did great and will grow much faster then the camellias so will give a little shade until the pines take off. Hope this helped good luck.
James In Florida

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 12:18AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Good morning, James. I assumed that acr = azalea, camellia, rhododendron

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 6:13AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cottonseed meal can also be found at any feed and seed type of store. It is often used to beef up cattle feed, pardon the pun.

Don't be tempted to use a planting mix of any kind unless it is specifically labeled for container growing. Most products that are called a 'planting mix' are intended to be used in-ground, or as an amendment for outdoor planting. They are utterly unsuitable for use as a container medium.

Your goal will be to find a medium that is very coarse textured so that it drains rapidly and provides superior oxygen access to the roots. You can build your own mix, but I've found that the best bagged product is made by Fafard. Fafard makes a retail line, but that stuff is too fine textured and doesn't provide the kind of porosity you should be looking for. Their PROFESSIONAL line is perfect; the Heavyweight options, in particular. I've been using the Nursery Mix for many years. It's a top quality potting mix for all kinds of plants, but especially woody material. You won't need to add anything but your fertilizer.

You will most likely have to have your locally owned garden center or nursery (not the big box outlets) special order you the Fafard. That's what I do, and have never had any problem. You won't find it on the retail shelves.

If you want to make your own, you can greatly improve the typical retail potting soil by adding a plentiful portion of conifer bark fines, maybe 60 to 70 percent bark. I am not talking about mini nuggets, but fines. The particles are about the size of my (female) fingernails. You can often find bark fines at the big box stores.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fafard's Nursery Mix

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 5:44AM
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