Camellia Sinensis is struggling. Pls help.

danrobjonAugust 11, 2007

Hi all. My green tea plants are struggling. Temps here are 58-92 this time of year and its a bit dry. I know green tea likes hot wet summers, so the tea plants are now in mostly shade, very light sun, covered with a plastic shelter so we can keep them dampish with misting. We water them about every other day. There is new growth but some of the leaves are turning brown. We have only had them under the plastic for a short while so don't know if it is working better or not. Any suggestions? The plastic also helps maintain an even temp between 65 and 90F.

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Hello, danrobjon. The browned leaves sound like a lack of moisture problem. Here in Texas, I keep the soil moist and well mulched & the plants shaded (starting at 10-11am) throughout our 100-110F summers and experience no leaf brown outs.

Maintain an appropriate watering schedule and resist the temptation to water just based on the temperatures. Check the soil moisture daily by inserting a finger to a depth of four inches and see how the soil feels: dry, moist or wet. If it feels dry or almost dry then water deeply. Otherwise, leaves watering for another day. You will soon notice yourself watering on a certain schedule (say, every two/three/four days). At that point, then set the sprinkler to water the plants on that schedule. If the temperatures go up/down 10-15 degrees, check daily again to see if your schedule needs tweaking or if you need to increase the amount of water that they get. Remember that this works both ways. You should reduce the amt of water when fall brings moderating temperatures.

The problem we have during the summer months is actually that of watering too much. We feel the heat and want to give the plants a break so we water. Watering frequently causes the soil to be wet too often. If the soil remains wet for a long time because of lots of rain or drainage issues, the roots can develop root rot. By checking the soil manually and only watering when the soil begins to feel almost dry then you prevent root rot.

Your plants may have dried out a little and this caused some leaves to brown out. However, from your description it looks as if they have recovered. Keep them shaded during the hot afternoon sun, keep them well mulched with 3-4" of acidic mulch and keep the soil moist (not wet). Do not fertilize them when they are stressed.

The partly browned leaves will stay on until it is time to shed leaves. When this happened to me once during winter (yes, you should water then too if your soil does not freeze), I left those leaves on until the plant shed them on its own. Others prune them for aesthetic reasons.

Does this help you, danrobjon?

Good luck,

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 2:15AM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

The young tea plant particularily has 'dryness' problem in the U S. I had the same experience 7 years ago. Even nursery owner in Calif. mentioned it to me the same problem. My plant is older and bigger now in 10 Gal pot under 50% shade. Dryness problem is much less. I still need to water it often in the summer.

If you are in a high humidity area, the problem should be getting better as the plant is getting more mature. Use your judgement to modify the sunlight in order to fit it naturally like its original habitat.

In recent 5 years I traveled to China every year. my observation is very fresh. Tea and Tea Flower( camellias) are originated from southern China millions years ago. That is why they can grow tea openly everywhere. The weather is very humid and hot. The sky is mostly misty and cloudy. From May to July is their wet season. I have never see any dryness problem there.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 12:18AM
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Thanks so much to both of you. I think I have resolved the issue. I believe it was combination of too much water and alkaline soil. We tested the ph finally and found it was too basic, so repotted in a more acidic mixture. Also reduced watering a bit. My wife likes to water the daylights out of plants. We are in Chico, CA. I really appreciate the help and will let you know how it all turns out. We love our green tea plants!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 9:09PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

This thread was a lot of help to me! Now, I know I need to move my baby tea plant- it is surely too dry where it is. Thanks! Brandy

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 8:05PM
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