The Q&A Archives: Browning Camelias

Question: In the yard of our rental home are 2 large camelia plants, I've waited anxiously since last Fall for Spring to reveal what they'd look like. One has started to blosom nicely, but as soon as the bud begins opening the flowers develop this browning. The other plants buds have not started opening yet. The camelias are white with a streak of pink in them. Is it soil lacking some nutrient?

Answer: It's possible your camellia has Petal Blight Disease. This fungus (Sclerotinia camelliae) attacks mostly the flower petals, but also is a concern on the leaves if severe. The best control is sanitation. Remove all fallen flower petals immediately and dispose of them. They are a source for fungal spores that reinfect the plant. Replace the mulch
every year and make sure your camellia's have good air circulation all around so the leaves and petals dry off quickly after a rain. This disease is very weather dependent. I have had the same problem and some years it is worse than others. This year I don't see a trace of the disease, but it depends on your local weather. Warm, humid conditions are very conducive to the development of this fungus.

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