help - plumbers have chopped up roots

stb95123(CA-Z9)August 26, 2004

How much root chopping can an old an old Camellia take?

I am brand new to gardening and to this house. It has an old Camellia, no idea how old but it is at least a foot higher than the roof and the trunk is thick. I've been trying to figure out why the leaves were turning yellow and it looks like the answer has been a slow water leak that has been going on from before we even moved in. The landlord sent some plumbers out here and before I could say or do anything they dug into the leak and when I got here and looked outside I saw many chunks of roots in the piles of dirt. I saved some of the branches they broke to try doing some cuttings (I don't even know if this is the right time of year for it) but is there anything I can do when they are out of here to help it not stress too much?



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Without seeing the amount of the actual damage, all I can suggest is that you mulch the area with several inches (up to 4) of good organic mulch and keep it moistened on top. Don't water a great deal unless your soil drains very well.

Don't fertilize whatever you do... and don't prune, except to cut off the damaged limbs and branches to an outward growing branch or to the main stem. You may receive some advice about 'pruning to compensate for root loss', but that would be faulty advice!!

A good professional would have contacted you or the property owner about the camellia, warning about the damage that bound to happen. There may have been some options.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
forrestal(Gulf Coast z8b)

Count me in the pruning camp, Dorie!! ;-) I don't know much about other plants, but at least with camellias, in my opinion if the roots have been too damaged to support the top of the plant, your risk of losing a camellia is very high. That is because they are slow growers, and it takes awhile for the camellia roots to develop and catch up. I guess maybe it depends on the extent of root damage, but those I have seen with severe root loss either suffered greatly or died unless they were heavily pruned back. Then they always come back strong. (I am nervously watching a backhoe on my neighbor's property near one of mine right now, yikes!!) The same reasoning applies to not fertilizing for awhile, because the fertilizer makes the top grow before the roots have caught up, thus stressing the plant. A "pile" of big roots sounds like a lot of damage to me. If it were mine, I would be pruning it as soon as possible. In a couple of years it will look as good as ever.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 4:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If there is at least half the root mat still intact I wouldn't worry too much about the big roots - unless you live in a windy area. The big roots are there for anchorage. Feeding is usually accomplished through the fine roots/root hairs. If you garden is prone to strong winds - you may need to support the plant for up to three years while it settles down and re-anchors itself.

In my type of zone 9, where I have good natural water most of the year round, Camellias can put on up to two feet of new growth each year. (Both sasanqua and japonica - autumn and spring flowering.)

Camellias will break from old growth so you could safely reduce the branches and new growth to reduce stress on the remaining root system. You will get few to no flowers next spring, but you will probably get new branches and leaf growth if you follow the recommendation to mulch thickly.

Add some organic fertiliser such as alfalfa pellets, dry sheep manure, or OLD stable manure on top of the mulch so it can percolate over winter and replace the nitrogen being used as the mulch slowly composts.

If the plant is higher than your house rain water gutter - take the opportunity to trim it back gracefully so the flowers don't drop into the gutter and cause blockages.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 6:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Vetivert8. I missed your note earlier so sorry for not replying. The plant was much higher than the rain gutter, high enough that the roof rats were using it as their main access point. We trimmed it, albeit I am not sure how graceful of a job we did. It was so big and it was hard to know what to do.

Time will tell, I suppose. I got 4 seed pods off this bush so that's something.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2004 at 10:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the plant has exposed bare branches when the weather gets warm and you think sunburn might happen, you can always use a shade cloth for a year until the plant covers itself in leaves again. Hopefully, the leaves will start right away in spring to cover the plant and your camellia is not where sun will burn it.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are the best Plumbing services in Brisbane Northside area, Have a look at our high list of recent works and gallery of Plumbing, broken pipes, plumbing repairs, blocked drain, gas fitting and many more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Residential Plumbing Brisbane

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Although you can cut the tops of Camellia japonica down to nearly nothing and have it sprout, come back I have found the wiry, not very fibrous roots of this shrub to be very bothered by being cut back - with failure likely when an attempted transplant has been in place for years beforehand.

So if a lot was cut off of yours, there might be trouble.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:50AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
looking for a low growing 4ft. red Camellia
For zone 7b. What species will qualify ?
Camellia photos
Here's a photo of a bloom from my 'Sweet Jane' hybrid...
Camellia Sinensis Dying - Please Help!
Around the beginning of the year, I received a camellia...
Camellia blooms for January
Finally a lack of fog let me roam outside and found...
Camellia shelter - dropped blooms and damaged buds (cold)
I have a Camellia bed planted under the edge of my...
Sponsored Products
Rider Tripod Table - BLACK/BRASS
$929.00 | Horchow
Shag Black and Multi-Colored Rectangular: 8 Ft. 6 In. x 12 Ft. Rug
$535.95 | Bellacor
Pink US State Map Customizable Print
$18.99 | zulily
Cape Cod Natural and Blue Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$180.95 | Bellacor
Denby Heather Teapot - HEA-091
$147.00 | Hayneedle
New Authentic Blue Chobi Peshawar 8'x10' Hand Knotted Pakistani Wool Rug H3794
BH Sun Inc
Modern Indoor/Outdoor Karastan Rugs Dresden Mine Bungee Cord 2 ft. 4 in. x 8
Home Depot
Tessuti Square Wall Sconce by Masiero
$414.00 | Lumens
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™