The Q&A Archives: Camellias

Question: Why do the flowers turn brown before they are fully bloomed?

Answer: What is happening to your blooms is called Camellia Petal Blight and is caused by the fungus ?ciborinia camelliae?. It is found primarily in warm humid climates. The fungus attacks blooms as they open. Brown splotches first appear in the center and spread rapidly outward and the flower eventually dies within a few days. As the flower falls to the ground, it is often covered with mulch and debris. The fungal tissue then hardens and forms a ?sclerotium? in about two weeks. This fruiting body of fungus remains dormant and germinates early the next spring. When ripe, millions of tiny spores are released into the air and can be carried by wind for up to two miles. The spores land on opening flower blooms and the cycle viciously continues.
There are no known cures for petal blight at this time. However, growers can take some measure of control.
Pick affected blooms before they fall to the ground. Pick up any blooms that fall to the ground, brown or not, and destroy by burning. Composting and disbursing into landfills will only transfer the problem to others.

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