The Q&A Archives: Camellia

Question: I planted 3 Camelia's at the front of my house in the Fall of 1999. They are mostly shaded and have almost doubled in size. However, I can't seem to get them to bloom properly. One of them had 1 bloom in the Spring of 2000. They showed many buds through the summer, but no blooms. It is now February and they have several flowers on each, but they are barely opening and are brown. Why would they be trying to bloom this time of year when it is still cold? When do they normally bloom? And why do the flowers never fully open up, but turn brown? Thanks for your help.

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.

Camellia's bloom anytime between November and April, depending upon species, so it's difficult to predict when the normal bloom time for yours might be.

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