High Fragrance dying- Please help

juanh(9)June 3, 2009

Last fall I bought a 5 gallon High Fragrance camellia and put it in a 20" pot. It seemed to be doing quite well and by Winter, it was loaded with buds. Since the growth on this Camellia is very open, I decided to tie the branches onto a trellis to to give it a fuller look against a wall.

Initially, many of the buds opende up to medium size peony type flowers with a wonderful scent, but a few weeks later, I began to notice that many of the buds were not oppening up completely anymore. Shortly thereafer, they just stopped growing and opening up altogether. Initially I thought that this was normal as it was nearing the end of the Camellia flowering season (late April), or that it might have gotten too much water. Then I noticed that the buds were drying up and falling off, along with most of the leaves. Some of the thinner limbs were also drying up.

I recently took the camellia out of the pot for repotting, and noticed that the rootball was pretty much the same as when I had orininally planted it several months back, with no new growth. Camellias tend to put on new growth after they stop flowering, but for some reason, this one decided to die back instead.

This picture is after I took it out of the 20" pot that it was in.

I don't know if putting the plant on a trellis stressed it out, so I took off the trellis and gave the plant a good trimming, and I'm hopefull that it will come back.

Any ideas of why this camellia appears to be dying?

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After doing a little bit more research, I'm wondering if my High Fragrance camellia might have the terrible Sudden Oak Death disease?

The symptoms include browning/drying of the tips and edges of the leaves, followed by dropping of the leaves as well as limb dieback.

If in deed this is what it has, then I would need to get rid of the plant ASAP!

Any comments?

Here is a link that might be useful: sudden oak disease- affects camellias

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 2:58PM
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There's a lot of things that it could be. Sudden Oak Death is not likely one of them. Very few camellias die from it, from what I understand, they just tend to be carriers. If I had to take a wild guess, I would say it was root or soil related.

Some likely problems could be:

Potting too deep - camellias are shallow rooted and should not be planted too deep - sometimes even 2-3" below surface could cause problems.

Using a commercial bagged potting soil or soil that doesn't drain well can cause root-rot or poor root development. Commercial bagged potting mixes also have a lot of peat which hold a lot of water. Also sitting it in a saucer without draining the water could do the same thing.

Periods of excessive dryness coupled with cold weather could cause the problem as well.

Check the bark - scratch the bark with your fingernail. If it is green, you have a chance at saving it.

I would cut back any dead limbs until you get to green bark.

Check the planting depth and the soil - if you did use commercial bagged potting soil, you might want to repot.

If all you have access to is potting soil or mix, then you can use 1/2 potting mix and 1/2 perlite to add more drainage to the soil

Keep the top of the plant root-ball near the surface of the container - don't plant too deeply. Also empty any saucers after they drain.

Miracle Grow makes a transpant or quick-start fertilizer. I would use that to help it overcome whatever stresses it might have and to get those roots growing.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:09AM
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