Plant now or wait?

cyn427 (zone 7)December 22, 2012

One of my neighbors just gave me a Camellia sasanqua 'Our Linda' as a gift. The ground is not yet frozen here in northern Virginia, but last night was in the 30s. Would it be better to keep inside until spring, in the garage, or should I plant it even though we seem to be getting into winter weather? It is in a one gallon pot. I have never planted quite this late in the year.

Thanks so much!

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Camellias are pretty tough plants. Unless there is a chance of a very hard freeze, I would plant it now. Water the night before a hard freeze if the soil has not frozen. Add 3-4" of mulch and do not fertilize until next year. If this winter is dry and mild (soil does not freeze), consider watering the soil every two weeks or so.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 3:24PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Thank you Luis! I will plant tomorrow. Today is very windy and chilly, so I am avoiding the outdoors today.

Thanks again for the detailed advice.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 4:33PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I know the feeling. Windy weather gets my allergies working overtime. And chilly weather makes me wear gloves, a pain to use while doing gardening chores. At least we get temperatures shooting back to the 60s-70s every now and then so I take advantage of those times to do outdoor chores then. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year cyn247!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:03AM
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If you have a cool room (with indirect light) that you could keep it in, then I would think about doing that. Nearly everything that I've read recommends springtime planting for northern grown camellias.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:34AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Oh dear. Thanks, restoner. I think perhaps I will go ahead and give it a try. My plan was to mulch well and protect from wind over the winter. I will try to research more as I could put it in the garage near a north facing window. So far, three votes are for planting it now (I cross-posted on the shrubs forum before Luis answered here)

I really do appreciate both of you taking time to respond! Merry, merry and happy, happy!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 12:31PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Restoner's advice is good advice. But given that we aren't expecting a cold winter (to the degree science is able to predict that) and that we've been in a pattern of mild winters (knock on wood) you should be alright.

After many years of both planting, and foolishly moving plants that were slightly too big to move, I've come to the conclusion that at least in the DC area...again with the mild winters we've had since 1994...fall planting or especially moving is always better. Except with the very tenderest of plant material. Whether a camellia falls into that category depends on 1) the type of camellia 2) the situation/microclimate of your garden and of course 3) how cold a winter we have. A 1979 or 1985 is going to kill or damage even a camellia planted the prior spring; OTOH a winter like the last one probably wouldn't have bothered a fall planted Butia capitata.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 8:53PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Thanks, David. I have planted it. I watered it in well and put a whole bag of much around it (away from the trunk/main stem, of course). Crossing my fingers and holding my breath now.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I would protect that thing with wind protection if you're planting now, or some kind of frost cloth or microfoam on a wire structure (like a tomato cage). I don't think 'Our Linda' is an especially hardy variety. Best to plant camellias in spring or early summer in our climate in my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 3:48PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Do not forget to water it if this winter is dry and the ground has not frozen. Except for the latest 2-3 weeks, we are having mild temps and little rain over here and I always remember one year when I turned off the sprinkler and forgot to reactivate it until I noticed a camellia that started to need water.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Camellias are native to southern China. They may get an occasional freeze but not as cold as NE USA. It's best to plant them in the spring.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:47PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Too late, but thanks. I do have seven camellias already and normally, I would plant in spring, but this was a gift from a neighbor. I already planted it as I said above and have watered and provided wind break, although it is in a protected spot. I will keep my fingers crossed now!

Thanks again everyone.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:53AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Ian, the camellias generally cultivated north of NC are specially selected hardy ones that are hardier than the various species camellias of China. Most bred from strains or cultivars that withstood -9F. That being said I don't know about the OP's specific cultivar.

And many people in the NE USA would protest the classification of N. VA as NE! Maryland might be ambiguous, but the northeast really starts north of the Mason-Dixon. (and some people in southern Delaware would object to _that_, but they are solidly outnumbered by their New Castle County overloads LOL)

As others said, do make sure it doesn't get dry in its first year, be it in winter or summer.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Jan 10, 13 at 12:19

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:16PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Ha, that is so right about NE, Davidrt28! As a native Pennsylvanian, I can say that Virginia (any part of it) would never be considered NE. We here in NVA are considered Mid-Atlantic most of the time. However, you would not be wrong to identify VA as a southern state when it comes to weather and attitude. ;)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 6:34PM
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