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Growing camellias under spruce tree

Posted by stuckinthedirt 6b VA (Shenandoah Va (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 1, 12 at 20:38

Does anyone have experience planting camellias under a spruce tree? I have a large spruce tree (50 - 60 feet tall, 20-25 feet diameter) that I would like to plant camellias under. I am thinking of planting 10 - 20 camellias in a large circle. I have had great success rooting a bunch of my mother-in-law's camellias, and now need a place to plant all of them.

I have heard that norway spruce have shallow roots, so I have two concerns. First if I dig 10 - 20 holes around this tree, am I likely to cut so many tree's roots that I kill the tree? I would be planting within the drip line. Second, provided I don't kill the spruce, will there be so much competition from the tree roots, that the camellias won't have a chance - or grow at a very stunted rate?

Thanks for your help,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Growing camellias under spruce tree

I would have your same concerns if I found that the area that I was digging a hole for the camellia was full of tree roots. They would definitely compete with anything that you wanted to plant, including grass.

Spruce tress can have shallow roots in the top 2'. This would present problems with camellias, azaleas and other ericaceous plants. If you really want to try, experiment with 1-2 shrubs planted very far away from the trunk where they get some sun and afternoon shade & use some kind of barrier to block the spruce roots. By the way, if you can determine exactly what king of spruce tree you have, your local plant nurseries could tell you how wide they get... useful info when planting the camellias.

Tell tale signs that one can sometimes use... Have you already had difficulty growing other plants or grass under the tree? If so, that may be a hint of problems to come.

I would think that cutting a few roots, enough for just one bush of camellia or something else, will be less stressful on the tree than suddenly digging 20 holes around the tree.

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