Camellia Dieback please help

nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)June 25, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I have just under 200 camellias in my north Florida yard. Shi Shi gashira, chansonette, Nuccio's gem, nuccio's pearl, high fragrance, Ted Knudsen, Nuccio's Bella Rossa, Glen 40, Magnoliaflora, Apple Blossom, Mine no yuki, Debutant, Omega, any many many more unnamed varieties that were here when we moved in.

This year, my sasanquas and even several japonicas developed die back. It's ravaging some of them. I had been spraying them preventatively with liquid copper fungicide. I fertilized and also used all season horticultural oil as a disease preventative. My job had me out of town for 6 weeks. I paid a service to spray the yard and shrubs while I was gone. I came back to find tons of tip die back on the sasanquas and even a few of the japonicas- including some of the 60 year old ones!!!

I have tried spraying with thiophanate-methyl. Waiting a week and then pruning away the diseased branches, dipping the pruners in a dilute bleach solution between each and every cut (I also had some fungicide in the solution, too). Then after pruning I sprayed the plants down in fungicide (application #2). One week later the die back is progressing and developing on new branches. So, I applied a granular azoxystrobin and watered it in. I cannot find any liquid forms of azoxystrobin.

Three days later I sprayed with liquid copper.

Still finding newly affected branches.

What in the world can I do to halt this progression? I am in immediate danger of losing just under 50 plants. That's no small investment.


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Oh, wow! Sorry to hear that! It does sound like the camellia dieback fungus indeed. It grows well where weather conditions are hot and humid (the southeast) and attacks Sasanquas and Reticulatas more strongly or severely than Japonicas (what you said).

Plant injuries such as pruning and deadheading cuts can let the fungus "in". The mere drop of a spent blossom, in theory, could also do that. The assumption is that the fungus is already in the environment.

The control information I have came from Clemson University: "Prevention & Treatment: Keep camellias as healthy as possible. Plant in a well-drained acidic soil, avoid wounding and fertilize properly. Remove diseased twigs by pruning several inches below the cankered areas. Disinfect pruning tools between all cuts, using a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water. Fungicides, such as thiophanate-methyl (Ferti-lome Halt Fungicide, Green Light Systemic Fungicide, Cleary's 3336) and copper salts of fatty acids (Camelot Fungicide/ Bactericide or Concern Copper Soap Fungicide) can be applied during wet periods and normal leaf drop periods to protect fresh leaf scars from infection. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label."

More info:,9,300&pageid=1260

I am not aware oof fungicides that will fix the problem; the ones out there simply allow the plants to defend themselves when the fungus tries to enter thru cuts of any type. Once infected, I do not think the fungicide does much but I have not researched this a lot. I sent an email to an ACS horticulturist and will let you know what he says.

I would also contact some of the retail nurseries near you for hints from people near you who may have already encountered this disease:

Gore's Nursery Inc in JAX
(904) 765-9714

S and J Camellia Nursery in/near Tampa
(863) 984-8113

South Seminole Farm & Nursery in/near Orlando
(407) 695-3247

Tallahassee Nurseries in Tallahassee
(850) 385-2162

Camellia Forest Nursery in NC
(919) 968-0504

Bob Wines Camellia Gardens, Inc. in Ocala
(352) 629-5766


    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:21PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Brad, I got this reply: "William from ACS forwarded your email about your friend's camellia problem. I help William out with questions like this because I am a plant pathologist. When I first read the email I thought you might be referencing a friend in Callahan, Florida that has called me about a similar problem with his camellias. I spoke to Jerry Rice tonight and he has had the extension service out to his place twice investigating his problem which is very much like what you are describing about your friends camellias. At this point they have not identified the problem.

Jerry would like to visit your friends camellia collection and see if the problems are related. You can call Jerry at 904-879-6906. He is an experienced camellia grower that may be able to help. Hope this will help your friend.

Mark Crawford
Valdosta, GA

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:27PM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

Thank you. I just saw this reply tonight. I will call them in the morning.

I would think that it's all tip die back since it looks exactly like the pictures on the internet.

It's affecting a lot of the camellias in my neighborhood. It's amazing that 12" tall japonica camellias (seemingly healthy and otherwise thriving) that are at least 60 years old are coming down with this disease. We've had an extremely wet and humid spring and early summer. Two large storms in the last 8 weeks have dumped 9" and then 5" of rain, plus several other smaller storms. We've probably had 18" of rain in two months.

What a nightmare.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 9:56PM
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What was the result of the visit from Jerry Rice. I have the dieback problem also

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 9:16AM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

Called today. Went to voicemail. It's been raining here for days. Couldn't have sprayed anything anyway. Glad I fertilized my yard last week, though.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 12:25PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Ah, that reminds me of a habit that I have developed. If I see a 50% chance of rain or more & it is time to fertilize anything, I will fertilize the previous day (or the same day) to take advantage of that rain.Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 11:38PM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

The die back continues to progress. 6 separate 12 feet tall sasanquas are rapidly dying back. I had to dig up one mine no yuki. I should have dug up the three surrounding that one. Five chansonettes are rapidly progressing. It's pretty amazing though. I have 10 chansonettes in a bed with 30 shi shi gashiras. Five chansonettes, so fat, are affected and I expect at this rate they all will be in a few weeks. None of the shi shi gashiras are sick. None. Chansonette, as I recall, is just a sport of the shi shi. Apparently along with differences in flower, they are also more disease prone...

4 japonicas look like they're goners- including two separate 10 feet tall 60 year old ones that the original homeowner planted.

It's a shame.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 10:50PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"I fertilized"

FWIW, this article would seem to suggest that was a bad idea:

That being said, I hope the rest of your collection survives.

What is with plant diseases recently? I feel like 50 years there will be nothing left to grow! I don't have many but I'm not looking forward to my boxwoods dying from Cylindrocladium.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:14PM
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nolefan_2006(FL 9a-ish formerly 8b)

I fertilized prior to vacation and came back to find the disease. I did not fertilize after the disease struck.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 9:43PM
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I've just come across this thread, but I do have a thought on what may have happened based on one of my prior experiences. You said that your camellias were fine before your trip but came back to dying camellias after being sprayed by a service.

My thought is the service you hired sprayed something they should not have, on your camellias. I once had a service spray all of my shrubs and they died. I found out they had used a spray tank that had RoundUp in it previously. The idiots "thought" it was safe to use the tank because they had "cleaned" it. I have never hired a service again.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:03AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Oh, God. And I bet "cleaning" meant they washed the inside with water only. Can't blame you for not hiring them again.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 5:57PM
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