camellia relocation

stolenidentityJune 12, 2013

I have a camellia that needs to be moved as does not fit well in it's current location. It is a Camellia sasanqua (I think). Is it okay to dig it up and move it? When is the best time to do this?? Can it be divided???

It was a nice shrub but is now a monstrous shrub trying to become a tree :)

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Choose a cool or cloudy day to move it. In the morning or the afternoon when be a good time.

What do you mean "divided"?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Hi fruity123 and thank you for your reply,

by divided I meant could I cut and divide the roots (like we do with our perennials) and make another plant or more, even. I think I need to root from a cutting but thought I'd ask.

A cool day under cloud would for sure be a good day to move it, it's a big 'un so I would not want to be digging it in the hot sun (the rare day that we have).

LOL - I should have been more clear, I really meant what season is best to move this monster, not what time of day ;)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Do it during the winter. Do not cut apart.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:13PM
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thanks, bboy, I will wait for winter.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:30PM
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wouldn't mid fall, after the rains start, but soil is still warm, be a good time?

"winter": i.e.after Dec 21 and through Jan/ Feb can often be such a hard time to be digging in the garden.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 11:05PM
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Trying to move a monstrous shrub successfully requires keeping a large rootball and a lot of work, then the gamble of waiting many months to see if it will live, and you will likely see very little growth the first year or two after the move.

Perhaps better to buy another camellia and start over.

Otherwise have someone experienced in moving large shrubs supervise.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Fri, Jun 14, 13 at 4:33

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Why not leave it in place and cut it back? I had one right next to an old oil tank that needed to be dug up. I cut it back all the way to ground level, and then the oil tank was dug out. This caused all sorts of injury and disturbance to the roots. Two summers later, the Camellia was up and growing again. My conclusion is that they are hard to kill.

In the meantime, you can buy another one and get it started in a better location.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 11:42AM
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I don't mind working in the garden in the winter, we don't get hard freezing to make the soil difficult.

I should have noticed that GW has a camellia section, so I've been reading over there.

I would really like to keep this one, it just can't live where it is currently parked. I will be careful of the root system. I don't work well with supervision so it will be just me and my camellia ;)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 11:47AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

You didn't tell why it doesn't fit in it's present location.
Is it possible to turn the 'overgrown bush' in to a well behaved small tree by some pruning?
Possibly a picture to show the problem with it's present location?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 12:33PM
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It does not fit because it is growing over the walk path, the windows, the door, and if I don't move it, it will overtake the roof. It is beautiful but just way too big for the space it lives.

It was just a little bitty thing when I brought it home a few years ago, and because I had no idea about the spread and height habit of camellia it was planted unwisely.

I will move it this winter. I have a nice space for it to really grow and show off that is not on the house. I have learned a lot since I planted that little thing!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You can cut a camellia anywhere on the stem and it will grow back. I think that's what you should do: start it over by cutting it back severely, rather than trying to dig it and move it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 8:01PM
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I still say fall planting and transplanting is better:

What's the Best Time to Plant or Transplant in the Landscape?

We are fortunate in the maritime Pacific Northwest to be able to garden almost year. In fact, gardeners can plant nearly anytime the ground is not frozen. While many of us are accustomed to planting during the warm months of spring and summer, fall is actually a better time to plant almost all plants.

Soil temperatures, built up during summer months, stay warm late into fall. September, October, and November can have warm soil up to hard freezes. Plant roots grow any time the soil temperatures are over 40 degrees F. Thus, a plant installed in fall can initiate new root growth before hard winter arrives. Planting and transplanting can be done anytime between late September and late March in the maritime Puget Sound.

Remember that your plants will need regular water until they become established. Depending on when the fall rains begin you may need to provide regular extra watering. Fall planting saves water. Not only is there more rainfall during the fall, but since the days are shorter and cooler plants grow less and require less water.

Transplanting is most effective when plants are dormant --when deciduous plants have lost their leaves and when evergreens have stopped growing.

Mulch around newly-set plants using any organic material. In case of a sudden hard freeze, you may want to protect the plants by covering them with burlap draped over three or four stakes set around the plant. Most hardy plants will come through winter just fine after fall planting.

Reference: EB1505 "Planting Landscape Plants"

Here is a link that might be useful: fall planting/ transplanting

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:19AM
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Such an operation with this camellia can only be done with brute force, there is no being careful of the root system.

A significant rootball can be dug unsupervised and possibly unassisted, but there are very few cubic feet in 200 pounds of soil.

After the move, a hard pruning may help the plant adapt to the much smaller root system.

And I can certainly understand being attached to a plant and wanting to save it, good luck.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 4:46AM
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I "rescued" a camellia that was dug, cut back to nubbins, shaken of soil, & left setting on the ground that week before Easter in the sun. It was covered with a damp sheet, so maybe it had a chance.

I followed the planting high recommendation in rich soil in part shade. I picked up some of the prunings and kept them in a bucket so I could confirm bloom color if the buds opened. They were bright rose pink & lovely in April. It has at least a dozen new leaves and new growth on stems. Yeah! I will keep it moist all summer. In fall I'll move it with a new rootball intact into more sun & hope for the best. If it doesn't make it at least I tried.

I saved these tips about transplanting camellias. I hope it helps.

Move off the top foot of soil from your prepared bed, sit the large root ball on top of the soil and cover it with the soil mixture that you removed. You will note that you are planting the Camellia on the top of the ground. Do not dig it out so that you are planting the plant in a hole. You want to have it stick out of the ground at least 8 to 10 inches. Prune the top of the plant back to about 18: from the trunk of the plant. Keep it watered good but do not drown it. Let it settle on its own. Within 3 or 4 months it will settle about six inches and will continue to settle a little more over the next year. Keep at least two inches of the soil mixture over the exposed roots. I would also use some root tone in the hole to stimulate new root growth.
Pruning large camellias may be minor or major. Its general purpose is to maintain or restore vigor to the plant. Large camellias that have been severely pruned have the advantage of a large root system that has excessive capacity, and its roots are capable of supplying all of its energies to a smaller number of branches and foliage. This enables the plant to increase its vigor, and become healthier. Pruning large camellias that are well established will enable the plant to have continued vigor, and lead to many more years of supplying beauty to the landscape.

Transplanting steps:
÷ Water well, and allow the excess water to drain away.
÷ Dig carefully around the roots and lift gently with minimal root disturbance.
÷ Wrap the root ball with heavy duty plastic to hold it intact.
÷ Move the plant to the ready-prepared new spot.
÷ Place the plant carefully into the hole. Make sure that the plant is facing the same aspect as before and that the roots are no deeper than they were in the previous position.
÷ Water well, making sure you get the water into the roots.
÷ Mulch with compost.
÷ If the plant needs support, place a stake on either side and secure the plant with a soft figure-of-eight tie. Remove stakes as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 7:15PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Cutting back tops during transplanting is of no benefit to the health of the plant, is useful only for the convenience of the gardener. A critical point is that food made by leaves and stored in stems is what is used to grow new roots. Reduction of the roots also reduces subsequent top growth, that is one reason bonsai are root-pruned as a maintenance procedure. The often noticeably stunted top growth of recently transplanted trees and shrubs is due to root loss, and disappears within a few years because the roots have been restored. The time of year when most of this recovery of roots occurs is fall, after the winter buds have been set at the ends of the stems. If a specimen is dug in fall, right after the roots have elongated and this extension of the roots is cut away, then it has to sit the whole of the winter before new roots are made in spring. Might as well wait until a damp, mild spell during winter, when the top is inactive and there is only the rest of the winter for it to get along with reduced roots.

The exception is any plants that can be caught in late summer/early fall, BEFORE the roots elongate, and then will push out into the new site right after transplanting. This is possible only when timing is perfect and the roots are not cut back, as cut roots are not replaced until spring (when winter buds at tips of stems open).

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Thanks everyone, I will take the greatest of care with the roots and stems and all parts of the beautiful monstrosity, using my version of brute force as able, sans any supervision, and will move this camellia when winter comes.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:02PM
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I did it! The camellia has been relocated. The entire root ball went along, only two small stems came off (saved and root zoned and potted), and it seems to be happy in it's new location. The hardest part was digging it where one side was on a wall and there was no way to dig over there. So the camellia and I did some rocking and rolling and it was a really good show :)

This post was edited by sasafras on Thu, Jan 9, 14 at 19:44

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 7:43PM
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I wish you success with this brutal and unsupervised transplant :)

I had the same (R&R) experience in 2010 with a magnolia and it did start growing again in 2012.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:19PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The test will be when it starts to bloom in spring, that is when transplanted camellias that didn't actually survive the move (and other camellias that have been killed during the winter, say by low temperatures) may suddenly reveal their true condition.

With the leaves discoloring and dropping off, along with other parts - after the specimen has looked normal for perhaps months beforehand.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 7:09PM
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It really wasn't that brutal, just time consuming trying to get around the root ball without tearing anything. I treated it like the old operation game where you did not want to touch any edges - LOL!

If it starts to bloom I will hire a band for a huge bbq party. It has bloomed one time in all the years it was growing on that wall, and it was one flower. It has never looked better but that might just be hopeful thinking. I will keep that up :)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 10:03PM
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Success! There are only two flowers but I'll take 'em. Party is in the planning stage :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 9:19PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

It certainly looks happy!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 10:49PM
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