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What should I do with this camellia?

Posted by noodle1 Portland, Oregon (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 16:36

We bought our house with this mature camellia in place in the NE corner of the house. As you can see it was planted very close to the foundation. I'm worried about long term damage to the foundation, and the odd angle the tree has grown at looks crazy to me, especially from the street.

That said, I really like the camellia blooms and the height is great. What do you recommend I do? Would I be able to transplant something this big? If so how should I go about it? I've also thought about cutting it off near the ground and keeping it small through pruning, but there is a path there that I think would forever be in conflict with it.

Thanks for your advice.

This post was edited by noodle1 on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 18:39

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

First of all, your tree is beautiful. I don't think it looks weird
at all. I bet it is gorgeous when it blooms.
Camellias grow slowly.
They are trees, and can live a long time.
Do not move it. Please.
If you really don't want it anymore, contact a profesional nusery to ask if they transplant trees to sell.
That is an older camellia, I'll bet its older than you.
If it grows up towards the wire, I am sure the electric company wil trim it for you, it looks like that is what happened to it.
Beautiful tree.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

Wow, considering how slow they tend to grow, this must be an old camellia. I am not sure if I would worry about the roots causing problems because -usually- the roots are tiny, fibruous, and near the top. I would touch base with an arborist service with camellia experience, if you can find one, to consider alternatives.

In theory, they could "move" the whole thing elsewhere. I have also seen people cut younger camellia trees that are shorter and the plant returned back from the bottom. But I am not sure how this old lady may do. If you are attached to it, try growing specimens from cuttings before moving the tree or doing something to it.

There is an Oregon Camellia Society, part of the American Camellia Society, in Yahoo Groups. See if anyone is close to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Camellia Propagation

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

That's a good-looking camellia, but I can see that it's not in an ideal location. Do you have a spot that you'd like to move it to? If so, there are a number of resources on this forum, and other places online that outline how to move established camellias.

If you can afford to hire someone to move it, you should ask some questions about their experience with camellias and what methods they use for transplants. If you can't afford an expert, you can probably move the plant yourself with a bit of research. The research is probably a good idea in either case...

I like Luis' suggestion that you take some cuttings for propagating the camellia- just in case- but generally, camellias are pretty tough, and if you take your time and do things right,you should be able to move your plant successfully.

I'm adding a link below to an article on moving older camellias, but I'll add that there is some controversy over the advice to severely prune your camellia before moving it. Some experts say it reduces the 'load' the roots have to support (and also the weight of the plant to make it easier to move), while others say the pruning is an unnecessary stressor to a plant already under stress. Both methods must work, but I have no idea of how the success rates compare.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Here is a link that might be useful: Relocating camellias link

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

Thanks for the suggestions and links. Glad to hear it's not as odd looking to you as it is to me! I'm still weighing options. I would definitely prefer to keep the tree if I can.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

Hi, Mr. Noodle: I too live in the Rose city in the southeast and I also have a camellia at least the size of yours (Lady Clare) growing about the same distance from my old bungalow as yours does (also on the northeast corner). I think mine looks more at home in its space, though, than does yours. I am also a long time member of the Oregon
Camellia Society & I would be happy to share a look at my plant and point out a couple of things you could do to optimize yours. If you would like to pursue this you may email me at Cheers- Collier Brown P.S. I can't include a picture because I don't know how (and don't have a camera anyhow).

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 22, 14 at 14:28

If it were mine I would cut it down at this time of the year to a few inches high or somewhat more and start it over again. Camellias are very tolerant of being cut back (the tea plantations that get picked constantly consist of Camellia sinensis plants), this treatment should not faze it.

Just keep in mind that as these are slow-growing the stump is not likely to explode with vigorous new stem growth at first - by fall of the first year it may only be some inches high. But it will pick up steam in subsequent years and soon enough you should have a new, small foundation shrub that can then be easily keep in scale.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

If it were mine, I'd cut the top back down about 5 or more feet and try to get it to grow more in a wider mushroom shape. Get it to grow with a wider canopy...even arching over the driveway.

Anyone trying to move that monster will need to remove part of your sidewalk to do it. I would worry more about damage to your foundation from someone moving it than from the roots.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 16:56

Pyramidal shape, with branches to the ground and broader base than top much more suited to location - shrub is already a mushroom, and we can see how attractive that looks there in the picture.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

Trying to turn this camellia into a small foundation shrub is possible, but not a great solution unless that walkway is redirected away from the camellia.

Dave, I'm intrigued by your suggestion of pruning- are you visualizing something along the lines of Japanese cloud-pruning or a more espaliered look?

I do think moving the camellia is feasible, but if it could be pruned to an attractive shape lower than the roof, but not so low that it interferes with the walkway...? And perhaps staked so that it doesn't lean away from the house so noticeably? That might be a way to keep the plant in place without it looking so out of place.

The Japanese don't limit their artistic pruning techniques to bonsai- full-grown plants are also trained into shapes meant to harmonise with their surroundings. I don't have any training with those techniques, but an arborist might be able to recommend a pruning schedule to achieve such a look.

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

If you were going to move it, you would wait for winter but you could start buy cutting the roots, over the next 6 to 8 months, first you would sink a spade to a depth of 8 to 12" about 18 inches apart up to 3 foot from the trunk, you can do this once a month in 2 or 3 spots and water with a seaweed base food every 2 or 3 weeks this will promote root growth closer to the trunk, and by winter it would be ringed. and then get some one to help you lift it out first dig a trench on at least 3 sides then slipe blade of the shovel under the camellia to cut the roots be fore lifting you can shake or hose some of the soil off the roots but take your time. don't break major roots close to trunk. good luck

RE: What should I do with this camellia?

Yes, I was thinking of reducing the height to below the roofline and letting or encouraging the plant increase in width. It would take some work over years, but would be akin to Niwaki.

You may have to weigh or pull some branches down to fill in spots nearer the house. Now if this was a sasanqua it might be easier, but it looks like a japonica.

It would take work over the years. It's not for everyone and most people would just say 'Remove it'. I like these plants too much for that. It takes years for them to achieve this size!

You have a walkway there and you can't block that, so completely cutting down would only encourage low bushiness I would think.

But, it's your call.

Have fun!

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