The Q&A Archives: Debutante camellia

Question: I bought one after being assured that it would do fine in a bright sunroom as an indoor plant. After sending you a request for help after the plant had failed to flower I found it needs a cooler enviroment than my house. I responded to your response asking for additional help but apparently you don't respond to those replies. I'm looking for an alternative to the camellia. I have a southerly facing room that's always warm (70 in the winter)and bright and want something that flowers. I would prefer that it gets no larger than 5' tall and 3' wide (pruning is fine)and the more blossoms the better. I prefer to leave it as a full time house plant because of previous problems with bugs (aphids mostly). If it matters, we're zone 5. Any suggestions?

Answer: You might try a lantana or a tropical hibiscus, but these are both true sunlovers and may need supplemental light during the shortest days of winter to continue blooming well. They will benefit from summers outdoors. Aphids should not be a serious problem if you avoid overfertilizing and keep the plants in full sun. Aphids can be knocked off with a spray of the garden hose or can be treated with insecticidal soap applied per the label directions. Whenever you have plants indoors they are potential prime breeding grounds for insects -- the conditions are ideal with heat, no rain and no wind, and no natural predators. So it is important to check them before bringing them indoors in the fall, clean them off and sometimes treat preventively prior to bringing them inside. I hope this helps.

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