Camellias - Southern elegance
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:30 AM
Camellias have been part of the southern land-scape for almost 200 years.
They are native to the Orient and were introduced into the U.S in 1797.
The common name camellia refers to varieties and hybrids of Camellia japonica and to the less common Camellia sasanqua and Camellia reticulata.
Camellias begin flowering in the fall and end in early spring.
During the remainder of the year their evergreen foliage, interesting shapes, and textures make camellias excellent landscape plants.
Camellias perform best in partially shaded locations with good water drainage and air movement.
Fertile soils high in organic matter are preferred.
Camellias prefer slightly acid soils.
Soil pH should ideally range from 5.0 to 6.5.
The soil must be well drained, because camellias will not grow in wet areas.
Dense shade may result in sparse foliage and poor flowering.
Plants exposed to full sun may appear yellow-green, but may yield more flowers than plants in heavy shade.
Three fertilizer applications per year are usually adequate to supply your camellias' nutritional needs.
Generally, an application sometime during the first part of March, followed by a second application during the first part of May, and a final third application during the first part of July.
For example, 1/2 pound of 12-4-8 or 15-5-15 should be applied per 100 square feet of planting area.
Water the plants after fertilizer application.
Camellias require little pruning if they are properly used in the landscape.
Necessary pruning should be done in late winter immediately after flowering.
Prune by removing undesirable branches to retain a natural shape and branching habit.
Shearing should be avoided.
Camellias can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, and grafting.
Cuttings are the most popular means of propagating camellias.
Cuttings are usually taken in April or May from hardened spring growth.
Seed propagation results in tremendous seedling variation, but this is how a lot of new cultivars are developed.
Seeds should be collected as soon as they are ripe (July to September) and placed in flats or pots.
Germination can be expected in 2 to 4 months if the seeds are scarified before sown.
Scale, spider mites, and aphids are among the most important pests of camellias.
Scale generally feed on the underside of leaves and may not be noticed until large populations have developed.
This is a good time of the year to treat for scales using a dormant oil spray.
Occasionally leaf galls occur during the spring flush of growth.
New shoots and leaves become enlarged, thickened and fleshy, and appear abnormal.
The color of the affected areas turns from light green to nearly white or pink.
The galls eventually harden and become brown.
Plants are seldom severely damaged.
If you would like more information on Camellias give us a call in the Neshoba County Extension office.
Our phone number is (601) 656-4602.
Camellias are just one plant 4-H members can learn about in the horticulture project.
For more information on 4-H and the over 40 projects it has to offer give us a call. That number is (601) 656-4602.
Nov. 14 - Leadership Neshoba, 8 a.m., Community Development Partnership Depot.
Nov. 14 - County 4-H Council, 3:30 p.m., Neshoba Coliseum.
Nov. 15 - Animal Science Club Meeting, 6 p.m., Neshoba Coliseum.
Nov. 22-23 - County 4-H Office Closed for Thanksgiving Holidays.
Until next week, get into 4-H!