Hello. I am new to gardening so please be patient with me! I have this
camellia tree which was in my front garden. It is absolutely beautiful
but I wanted it moved to my back garden. I consulted a qualified RHS
gardener who said it would be okay but might not bloom next year. I had
it moved but the buds and leaves have all gone brown but it is growing.
Please could someone give me some tips about pruning it back so the tree
would blook again? I have tried to, but I am unsure how much I should
prune. Thank you.
Camellia japonica (what most people mean when they say "camellia")
requires shade except in climates that provide permanent cloud cover.
C. sasanqua can take part sun. Thus, it is important to know what
species of Camellia you have.
ALL camellias require an acidic soil that drains extremely well. When I
planted my camellias, I stirred a large amount of peat moss into the
soil. The soil should always be moist but never wet. To accomplish
this, I mulch my camellia bed quite heavily, using fallen leaves and the
output from my home-office shredder. Then I water only every third day.
(Note that it has been almost 100 days since the last measurable rain
where I live.) Camellias prefer soil that is "lean"; that is, there are
only scant nutrients.
The original environment for the wild camellia was the southern
foothills of the Himalayas. Warm moist air from the south would flow up
the slopes of the mountains, creating a permanent cloud cover and almost
constant drizzle and showers. The rain eroded the mountains to create a
soil that is decomposed granite (very coarse sand with pebbles). The
drizzle would keep this soil moist; but water would drain through it
quickly, leaching away most nutrients. The constant rain also left the
soil acidic. Thus, you should use a very mild acidic fertilizer only
once a year; I use a commercial azalea and camellia fertilizer. Because
my native soil is clay, I use a lot of gypsum (calcium sulfate) in my
camellia bed; gypsum reacts with the clay to make it granular and porous
and thus improves the drainage.
Do not prune until you see new growth. Then, remove only branches and
twigs that are obviously dead. Unlike many other woody plants,
camellias do not require annual pruning. After a year or two of growth
and immediately after the bloom period (usually winter) has passed, the
plant can be pruned for appearance. To make new branches sprout -- to
make it more "shrubby" -- cut a branch just below the scar left when
last year's growth occurred. That will generally cause more than one
growth bud to sprout. If you cut above the scar, usually only one
growth bud will sprout. The annual feeding should be at the time of
pruning (whether or not you actually prune).
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
If the buds and leaves have all gone brown, how do you know that it is
growing? I assume you are in the UK., as you are asking through
gardenbanter. Where are you in the UK? Some areas here have had almost
drought conditions now for several weeks. If the camellia hasn't been
watered almost daily after it was replanted (and I mean soaked, not just
a small can of water) then its chances of survival are slim. Don't
worry about using hard water to water the camellia. It might go a bit
yellow after a while, but will recover from that. It won't recover if
it has dried out.
This is absolutely the worst time to move a camellia. Could it not have
waited until mid or late autumn? If it wasn't moved with its rootball
intact (and how big is this "tree"?) I doubt it will survive.
Sorry to be so negative, but I have been planting small to medium-size
shrubs of all sorts over the last few weeks after moving house, and have
to spend every other day watering them to ensure their survival - the
soil here is dry down to at least a foot. And those are from pots, not
plants being dug up and moved.
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