Something awesome happened today...
When I got my Mary Alice Cox camellia in the fall, I tormented myself with whether or not I should repot it. The pot was almost all roots and no soil, and yet I was fairly sure that repotting it would affect the budding process.
I asked for advice on the camellia forum, and they told me to throw some mulch on it and call it a day, so that's what I did.
As winter went by and I saw the buds start to form, I waited impatiently for them to open... Only to see them fall off, one by one, without opening.
Only one bud lasted, and it opened at a rate of what seemed like a millimeter a week, if that.
I looked up causes of bud drop to see that inconsistent watering is the biggest culprit -- almost certainly due to the tiny amount of soil in the pot.
On Monday, I decided to just cut my losses and repot the camellia, regardless of the unopened bud. I pulled it out (great root system, by the way, didn't require any root pruning) and repotted it in gritty mix in a smart pot.
To my surprise, today I found the bud almost completely open! I was ecstatic! I still am! Even if it doesn't end up fully opening, I am happy with almost open!
This is proof that miracles happen! Also, when in doubt, just repot! :)