Late winter is the season when camellias are at their best. While the early-blooming sasanquas have pretty much finished for the year, the shade-loving japonica camellias are at their peak and the large-flowered reticulatas are trying to prove they are the showiest of all. So, while camellias are top of mind, give some thought to how you are going to care for them for the rest of the year.
Feeding and Mulching
Camellias make their major spurt of growth after flowering, so it’s best to feed when the last flowers are coming to an end. Of course, most sasanquas stopped blooming weeks ago, but the end of winter is still the optimum time to give them a feed. Use a specific camellia food (such as Thrive Granular) or, better still, some Dynamic Lifter Advanced for Camellias, Azaleas & Rhododendrons. Potted camellias should be fed with a plant food that’s safe for pots. Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser would be a good choice.
Camellias have shallow root systems that can dry out readily during summer so, after fertilising, spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Avoid direct contact with the stem of the plant.
Established camellias are remarkably drought tolerant but the plants will perform at their best if water stress is kept to a minimum. Mulching, as mentioned, will help, as will an application of Yates Waterwise Soil Wetter. Scrape away existing mulch, apply soil wetter and water well afterwards. Then move the mulch back into place.
Potted camellias will appreciate the addition of some Waterwise Water Storage Crystals in the root area. These will help hold extra moisture.
Pests and problems
Watch out for Sunburn. Even the sun-hardiest camellia can burn on an extra-hot day, which can lead to leaf fungal problems. Protect vulnerable plants with Yates DroughtShield.
Use Yates Scale Gun to treat Scale pests.
There are no treatments registered for Camellia Tea Mite. The best thing to do is to remove as much of the affected growth as possible and feed the plant with a complete fertiliser, like Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Organic Based Pelletised Plant Food to help the plant recover from the attack and to help strengthen it against future attacks.