The Q&A Archives: Planting Camellias

Question: Can you share information about planting camellas in northern California this time of year?

Answer: Now's an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs! Camellias are one of those carefree evergreen shrubs that grow especially well in your gardening region. Most Camellias will grow in full sun to part shade, in average garden soil. They require regular watering when they're young, but once established (3-4 years), they can get along with only occasional watering during the hottest summer months. Prune after bloom to keep the shrub small, or allow it to grow without pruning. Camellias often set more flower buds than they can support, so some of the buds may fall without opening. Sometimes the plants are attacked by scale insects. Inspect your plant for brownish lumps or bumps on the stems and squish any scales you find. Other than the above, Camellias are an easy care addition to any landscape.

Trees and shrubs can be planted just about any time the ground is not frozen. Most places ship trees and shrubs at the proper planting time for your area. When buying from a nursery, I like to do my planting either in the early spring or early fall because either time provides the transplant a period in which to establish its roots a bit before having to go through the winter. It is also a good idea to plant new shrubs/trees when the day is slightly overcast and not windy. Sun and wind are enemies of the tender roots. Avoid days in the thick of the summer heat as well, it will be much easier on you and the plants! Try to have your holes dug and ready to receive the new plants although you don't want to dig them more than 24 hrs. in advance. Also, keep in mind when planting new shrubs/trees it is very, very important to water them in well. Most transplant failures are a result of inadequate watering at transplant time and during the first year. I would also be sure to work some organic material such as compost, leaf mold, or composted cow manure into the planting site.

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