The Q&A Archives: Camellias Blight

Questioner's Location: Stockton, Ca
Date: September 8, 2009

Question: I've lost a cple of nice camellia bushes due to what my nursery guy calls

Answer: I would be inclined to take samples of the affected leaves into your local cooperative extension office for positive diagnosis. In general, the only "blight" that affects camellias is flower petal blight. It is a fungus that turns the petals of the flowers brown but does not affect the leaves or stems of the plant. Brown leaf margins are usually due to cultural problems such as over fertilization which causes salt burn, or droughty conditions. Alkaline soils can cause the same symptoms with camellias because they prefer acidic soils. You can amend your soil with compost and/or peat moss to acidify the soil prior to planting. Amending the soil will also help the soil remain cool and moist, which will make the plants happy. There is an off chance that the camellias are affected with Phytophthora ramorum (also known as Sudden Oak Death). This disease principally causes a leaf blight, and it can remain in the soil and infect any camellias you plant in the same garden area. This is why I think a professional diagnosis might be helpful. Contact San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension, 2101 East Earhart Avenue, Suite 200. Stockton, CA 95206. Phone: (209) 953-6100. Best wishes with your landscape!

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