The Q&A Archives: Camellias Indoors

Question: I have 2 indoor camellias. They are full of buds again this year. I have them in a cool room 60 facing south behind a sheer curtain. I noticed that some buds have started to drop. This was also a problem
last year (I did not have any flowers that opened). What should I do?

Answer: Camellias are found naturally as understory plants, growing best in partial shade in well-drained acid soils (pH 5.5-6.5) that contain an abundance of decayed organic matter. Ideally, rainfall is generally high and evenly distributed throughout the year. Summer temperatures are usually high and winter temperatures are cool.

When growing camellias outdoors, it is best to place them under trees such as oaks and pines. Since the flowering time ranges from early autumn to late spring, the gardener might assume that the plant is best left where it receives as much sun as possible. However, due to the wide variation in day and night temperatures, such a site is actually detrimental. The plant does much better in areas that are protected from winter sun and wind.

Indoors, camellias should be grown in cool areas where night temperatures are between 35 and 45 degrees F. Potting soil should consist of a mix similar to one-half sand or sandy loam soil, one-fourth partially decayed organic matter and one-fourth fine pine bark. Dolomitic lime should be added to bring the pH balance to 6.0-6.5. Plants should be repotted after two to three years, especially in regions where the water contains minerals that raise the pH of the potting mix.

Camellias tend to develop more flower buds than they can support so it is perfectly normal for some of the unopened buds to drop - if they all drop, the temperature or exposure to light isn't quite right for your plant. Try adjusting the environment and your camellia should thrive.

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