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Camellias need some help

Posted by stuckinthedirt 6b VA (Shenandoah Va (My Page) on
Sun, May 5, 13 at 0:04

I have two camellias that aren't looked as healthy as normal this spring. They are Autumn Spirit, and Pink Icicle.
The autumn spirit leaves have turned partly black, while my pink icicle are yellowing. I did not put any winter protection over either this past winter, though it was generally mild. They have been in the ground 2-4 years, and generally have done well. They both are protected from winter sun.
So, I am wondering if the autumn spirit leaves are just burnt from the winter, or if something else may be going on here.

As for the pink icicle, does it just need some nutrients?

Thanks for your help.

Autumn Spirit
 photo IMAG0172_zpsa310621d.jpg

Pink Icicle
 photo IMAG0162_zps3daea745.jpg

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Camellias need some help

Looks to me to be winter damage.

RE: Camellias need some help

I agree too. The leaves of ‘Autumn Spirit’ appear to have winter sun scald which is unattractive but not deadly or very serious. ‘Pink Icicle’ has a little damage but it definitely is either getting too much winter sun or needs something, probably nitrogen. But before adding some fertilizer, I would suggest a soil test to confirm.

Many plant nurseries sell a cheap soil test that checks for high/low levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and pottasium. All you have to do is combine a pill (there is a different pill for each of the three minerals) with a soil sample and water; shake/let it sit for some predetermined time and then see what color the solution has.

You can add some blood meal if the soil is low in nitrogen. Blood meal is an organic slow-release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. While you are at it, check to make sure that you still have 3-4" of mulch and check the soil pH.

There is not much you can do about the existing leaves (except cut them of course) but, see if new growth will help hide them until they are all covered by the new growth or they fall down. I remember that yellowing and falling down of old leaves in some sasanquas that I have occurs around June-ish.

In the future, try watering them the night before cold temps to see if that helps (assuming the soil has not frozen). Do a few searches on the forum to see what others do to prep the plant leaves when unusually cold temps occur. I have used some christmas lights on non-camellias that have given me trouble before.


This post was edited by luis_pr on Fri, May 10, 13 at 5:16

RE: Camellias need some help

Thanks for the feedback. I will look into a soil test.

RE: Camellias need some help

Ah, your response reminded me that I need to do the same thing (nitrogen deffociency soil test). Last summer, I had to amend where I planted a wisteria and I plum forgot to retest for a mineral defficiency where it is planted. By the way, I think I found my kit at Lowes or HD (try calling ahead); thanks for reminding me! Ha!

Remember that cold hardiness in zone 6 only means that it is supposed to survive the winter. Some winter injury is possible even when hardy. After checking temps in your general area in and with Camellia Forest Nursery in NC, I confirmed that this winter could have been hard on the camellias because a warm January might have awakened them and forced them into blooming in places. All this is is fine but those temps were then followed by a much colder February that still included spikes into the 60s (this zig zag in temps is not always good). A winter where the temperatures remain stable or cold going to colder would probably cause less injury as they remain dormant. I had one year where your same type of weather did not result in leaf damage but it interrupted blooming, which restarted over a 1 month or more later.

If the shrubs look good in a month, they are probably ok but, if you notice new symptoms or you notice that they "look" worse... there may a be problem and you may want to post an update or add/start a new post again.


RE: Camellias need some help

Hi Luis,

You are right. We had a crazy winter (and continue to have a crazy spring - we had 33F Tues am, and 89 yesterday pm!!). I have another camellia, Spring's Promise, that was happily giving me blooms all January. Then I wrapped it up in Feb, when the temps dropped. Most of the remaining buds got fried (frozen), but I still got a few flowers when it warmed back up.

The autumn spirit is leafing out nicely. I need to get over to my mom's and check up on her Pink Icicle.


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