- Planting Camellias
- Caring For Camellias: Tips On Growing A Camellia Plant
- How to Care for a Camellia Plant
- Camellia Planting and Care
- Additional Camellia Plant Maintenance
- Introduction to camellia cultivation.
- Gardening with camellias- How ? Why ? Where ? and When ?
- Camellia Care and Planting Tips
- Caring for Camellias
- How to Keep Those Older Camellias Trimmed : Pruning: Proper shaping can bring back plants that have been abuses or ignored and produce profusion of mid-winter blooms.
- Best Tips For Growing Azaleas, Rhododendrons And Camellias
- Growers of Rare Camellias and Azaleas Since 1935
- Azalea Culture
- How to Feed Rhodys, Azaleas and Camellias
Camellias are generally planted in the late fall through the early spring, although they may be set out any month of the year if properly cared for.
Choose a Site
Choose a planting site with well-drained soil. Do not plant where shade trees with shallow root systems will compete with camellias for nutrients and water. Plants in the sun may suffer scald on the leaves or leaves may appear yellow rather than deep green. Plants of Camellia sasanqua generally do better in the sun than those of C. japonica.
Camellias will grow in most well-drained slightly acid soil. A soil pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity) of 6.0 – 6.5 is considered best for camellias. However, they will tolerate a lower pH.
A soil test made before planting will tell you what is needed to bring the soil to the desired pH and fertility level. Practically all soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter when planting. Two to four inches of peat moss, leaf mold, ground aged bark, sawdust or cow manure worked into the soil improves both the drainage and fertility of the soil.
Camellias are generally planted in the late fall through the early spring, although they may be set out any month of the year if properly cared for. Adequate moisture is a necessity until the roots become well established in the soil. The newly developed roots will then provide enough moisture for the plant to start growth when spring arrives.
Allow a minimum of five feet between plants, and preferably more. When planting a hedge, a distance of three feet between plants is recommended.
The following steps should be followed when planting a camellia.
- Dig a hole at least two feet wider than the root ball.
- Leave soil in the center of the hole undisturbed to prevent settling.
- Place the rootball on a the column of soil in the center of the hole.
- The top of ball should be slightly above soil level.
- When planting a container-grown plant, wash away the soil from the root ball with a water hose and rough up the root ball, if tight, to allow better penetration into the soil.
- Fill the hole around the root ball with a mixture of topsoil and organic matter.
- Build a berm of soil around the plant three feet in diameter to prevent water from running off.
- Mulch with straw or other organic matter around the plant.
- Water well after planting and soak once a week during dry weather.
The State Extension Service no longer recommends the addition of organic matter to the backfill soil. Research has shown that this does not improve plant growth. They now recommend digging a wide hole and refilling with the removed soil.
Caring For Camellias: Tips On Growing A Camellia Plant
Camellias are dense shrubs with brilliant foliage. They offer bright, long-blooming flowers, and serve as popular foundation and specimen plants. The trick to growing a camellia plant without too much effort is to plant it correctly. Read on for more information on camellia planting and care.
How to Care for a Camellia Plant
Camellias have a reputation as being demanding and picky plants, but much depends on how they are planted. If you take the time to plant this shrub appropriately, your camellia plant maintenance will be significantly reduced.
Camellias require acidic soil that drains well. Test the soil first to be sure the pH is between 6 and 6.5 before you begin installing the plant.
While you are digging, work in several inches of organic material to ensure nutrients and adequate drainage. Plant your shrub in a shady area with dappled sunshine,
not in direct sun. These preliminary steps make caring for camellias easier.
Camellia Planting and Care
When you are planting your camellia, install it slightly higher than the surrounding soil. This allows excess water to drain away from the center of the plant. Don’t plant this shrub where it will have competition for nutrients. For example, don’t plant it beneath a tree with shallow roots, like a birch.
Caring for camellias will include water and fertilizer. Nobody could call young camellias drought-resistant. When you are first growing a camellia plant, it will require regular and generous irrigation until the root system is established.
Water young shrubs deeply to encourage the root system to spread downward. Once the tree is mature, it needs less water. In time, you may not have to irrigate at all.
Camellias do not do well with a lot of fertilizer, so don’t overuse it. Once the shrub has finished blooming, broadcast a balanced fertilizer for acid-loving plants around the plant’s drip line. Irrigate well.
Additional Camellia Plant Maintenance
You’ll find two primary species of camellias in American gardens: japonica and sasanqua camellias. The latter are hardier and tougher than the japonicas, tolerating drought and resisting disease better. Both require a little pruning, however, to maintain their beauty.
These species should be pruned at different times. Since japonicas bloom in early spring, they should be pruned immediately after the flowers fade.
Sasanquas flower in autumn, forming flower buds in spring. Prune them in early spring to avoid snipping off flowers. A light shaping is all you need, snipping off branch tips to encourage fullness.
Introduction to camellia cultivation.
By Jennifer Trehane
From their beginnings as wild plants growing in the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean countryside, camellias have come a long way, quite literally in many cases. They can be found in gardens almost all over the world, as a glance at the regions in which ICS members live tells us.
The first camellias to be cultivated, possibly around 5000 years ago, were tea plants, camellia species local to the area whose young shoots and leaves have been traditionally plucked to make the world famous beverage, particularly Camellia sinensis var sinensis which is widely distributed in China.
Selections from other wild species with more beautiful flowers particularly Camellia japonica but also Camellia reticulata in Yunnan, China, were later made to grace the gardens of temples and those of the nobility. This was done hundreds, probably more than 1000 years ago. As more were selected they were crossed with each other and the first cultivars emerged and gradually filtered out of China and Japan to ‘the west’. The first named cultivars arrived in England in the 1730’s on the tea clipper, the Carnatic. (the story appears elsewhere on the website).
At first, in England, it was believed that camellias were ‘exotics’, to be housed in heated glasshouses, and proudly displayed by their wealthy owners.
They became highly prized and sought after.
Interest spread throughout Europe, especially when it was realised that these plants were actually successful outdoors.
By the middle of the 19th century camellia cultivation was widespread. Hybridists and nurseries in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and the UK were breeding, propagating and selling more and more camellia plants in more and more varieties. This was also the century when camellias were spreading with increased enthusiasm in North America, New Zealand and Australia and hybridists produced ever more exotic varieties which soon triggered competition amongst gardeners. Camellia Shows became regular events and camellias, especially in the USA started to be collected and grown specifically to produce blooms for the shows. Local societies cropped up around this trend and enthusiasts learned the techniques needed for this type of cultivation, which is very different from that required to grow camellias as garden plants for overall enjoyment.
Gardening with camellias- How ? Why ? Where ? and When ?
It’s a good idea to look to ‘origins’ to find out what to provide when considering camellias for a garden, wherever this may be in the world. Plus a bit of detective work locally to find out more, particularly when it comes to choosing varieties.
In the wild most camellias grow in communities either in semi-shade provided by a canopy of trees, particularly pines in China, or they grow upwards to become small trees themselves, effectively forming camellia woodland as happens with Camellia japonica, ‘tsubaki’, in many parts of the Japanese archipelago, and Camellia sasanqua, ‘sasanka’, in southern Japan. Camellia reticulata may be found in full sun in China but is more often seen in semi-shade.
Most camellias need good light to thrive and to form flower buds, but prefer some shade to give protection to both flowers and leaves, especially in hot climates where mid-day sun may scorch leaves and bleach the colour from flowers or even cause them and their buds to shrivel up and fail. Where trees are not available to provide natural shade, shade structures are built.
Protection from strong winds, hot or cold, is also highly desirable.
For those of us brought up to grow camellias in light textured composts based on peat, cotton seed waste or other coarse organic material, or planted in garden situations with plenty of organic matter, it is surprising to see wild camellias in China growing in dense, ‘heavy’ soils with a high percentage of small clay particles. These are admittedly mostly found on well drained slopes and in a climate with low winter rainfall so roots are less vulnerable to rotting. Similar soils are used in the clay pots used as containers both in the nurseries and around houses, but root systems are not vigorous and plants slow to establish and grow into healthy plants.
In most gardens around the world camellias thrive in slightly acidic soil with a texture providing good drainage, with air round the roots. As camellias grow they form deep roots for anchorage, a spreading fibrous root system to absorb water and nutrients and—surface roots, which become more obvious as plants reach maturity..
In their natural environments camellias receive very little water in winter when they are dormant. Most of the rain falls during the monsoon season, which starts just when temperatures rise and they come into growth in the Spring. Developing leaves and shoots need plenty of water and nutrients transported up from the soil in that water. Most flower buds form on the current year’s growth from mid-summer. From then onwards they need a regular supply of water for the development of the flowers within the buds and for the flower stalks that attach the flowers to the stems. A break in water supply during these months may result in fallen flower buds and a lack of blooms later.
Natural rainwater is mildly acidic, which suits camellias just fine. If it can be stored for use later that is ideal. If this is not possible or supplies run out, what then ? What if the household water supply is alkaline, say pH8 or higher ?
In temperate climates with significant rain falling in summer this is not a problem, especially for camellias planted out in the garden. Tap water is better than no water for short term situations. Its a different matter where long, dry summers are the rule.
Mulching, either with an organic material such as woodchips or with a plastic membrane to reduce evaporation is often used. Regular irrigation is usually needed. Where there are only a few plants this is done by hand, giving a good soak from a water can or hose, making sure the water reaches right down to the roots. With a collection of plants it’s a good idea to instal an irrigation system. Many enthusiasts in hot dry climates such as in California and parts of Australia, instal irrigation systems with timers set to provide water in the evening or overnight when there is low evaporation, and often the added bonus of discounted payments. Acidifying kits are available if required.
In the wild camellias grow from seeds and need very small amounts of nutrient to start with, supplied by rotting leaves and other plant material around them, gradually increasing as they grow. It’s all balanced out naturally and they grow relatively slowly.
When cultivated it’s a different matter. Plants are usually bought from nurseries in pots, usually already growing vigorously. In order to keep the momentum, young camellias planted in the garden appreciate some fertiliser to help get them established. Applied during the growing season, either as a regular liquid feed, a less regular granular feed, or as ‘slow release’ pellets supplied once in Spring and possible again in mid-summer, these fertilisers need to be added with care. Overfeeding can kill.
Why feed in the Spring ?
Camellias, like many woody plants, stop growing in the autumn and go into a period of relative inactivity, (dormancy). Leaves stop manufacturing the sugars needed for normal activity and ‘the sap’ (liquid sugars), stops moving through the plants; they are gradually stored as immobile starch granules, just under the bark. So—feeding during the dormant season is usually a waste of money, but experienced camellia enthusiasts in the Showing fraternity in warmer climates where dormancy may not be complete, do sometimes fertilise their plants in late winter, in order to enhance the colour of their blooms.
Generally a camellia, especially those that are of a variety classified as ‘formal double’ or ‘peony form’ and ‘large’ or ‘very large’ will also produce bigger blooms, with more petals in warm climates and may be disappointing in cooler areas.
The burden of carrying a crop of flowers is quite a heavy one and the energy for doing this usually comes from activation, helped by enzymes, of the starch store and its gradual conversion into sugars. By the end of the spring flowering season many camellias are showing signs of exhaustion and look less than healthy. Their stored nutrient reserves may be used up, but growth buds are activated and the usual surge of spring growth needs more energy. Added nutrients are appreciated.
There are many types of fertiliser available in different parts of the world so local advice and knowledge are useful.
Wherever they are, camellias need a balanced diet of the main elements, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium plus iron, magnesium, sulphur, and calcium and a variety of more minor elements. All interact within the plants to help with their metabolism and are able to be taken in and put to good use when the soil is acidic, pH7 or below.
As the years go by, provided the soil conditions are suitable, the roots will spread and they will usually find sufficient nutrients once well established and with sufficient water to conduct them into the plants.
Choice of varieties.
There are varieties available for almost any garden situation, in a range of flower sizes, shapes and colours. Some are vigorous with sturdy stems and quite quickly grow to become small trees. At the other extreme there are slow growing camellias with dense growth habits that are either upright or spreading. Many come somewhere between the two. Local nurseries and garden stores will have a selection and should be able to provide advice to help choose for local conditions, as will Camellia Society members at Camellia Shows.
The ICS Register featured on this website provides good descriptions of over 40,000 registered cultivars.
Good ground preparation gives camellia plants a good foundation so its a good idea to spend time in advance of planting, removing all perennial weeds, incorporating well rotted organic matter in an area about 1 meter square and a spades depth for each plant
Make sure that after planting and firming the soil the camellia is not planted too deeply.
They need air around the neck of the plants, where the stem joins the root system. Many young, newly planted camellias are killed by lack of air here, which causes rotting and the death of vessels carrying water and nutrients up from the soil and sugars down from their manufacture in the leaves.
Tall plants may need the support of a stake and ties, to prevent the wind rocking them, disturbing the roots while they are trying to get established.
Camellia Care and Planting Tips
Camellias have much to offer a shade landscape area; these shrubs feature year-round glossy, dark green foliage and display stunning single or double blooms in the winter. There are thousands of camellia hybrids, offering a large palette of colors from white and bi-colors to the deepest red.
There are large varieties, which can be formed into small trees or lower growing shrub types. There are two main species of camellia used here in Arkansas; sasanqua camellias bloom in the late fall to early winter and have smaller leaves and flowers where as japonica camellias bloom in the late winter or early spring and typically have larger leaves. There are also hybrids of cultivars on the market with desirable characteristic like cold hardiness. The later bloom season of japonicas make them more susceptible to a late frost… but the large, multi-petaled flowers make the risk worth it! Camellias have a variety of uses in the landscape, including specimen plants, hedges and screens as well as container plantings.
Camellia care is pretty simple; plant in a shade to part sun area (morning sun, afternoon shade) with rich soil. As the plants mature and the canopy provides shade to roots, they can take more sun. Camellias like ample moisture and well-drained soil. Water during dry conditions to encourage new growth. Camellias do not grow well when planted too deep; plant 1-2 inches above surrounding grade, gently sloping soil up to the sides of the exposed root ball. Do not cover the root ball with soil; mulch around the plant, with a thin layer over the root ball; water well after planting.
Prune to shape camellias as needed; prune selectively instead of shearing to maintain natural shape of the plants. Remove no more than one third of the plant at any one time. Thin dense branching when the foliage could be reducing room for flowers to properly open. Shortening lower branches will encourage a more upright growth pattern. Cut back leggy top growth to encourage a fuller plant form. Pruning should be done after the chance of frost has past in the spring and flowers have faded. Camellias set flower buds in late summer so pruning at the wrong time of year will significantly reduce blooming.
Camellias like acidic soil conditions, which we tend to have in central Arkansas. Using a fertilizer for acid loving plants such as camellia/ azalea food after blooming will both provide necessary nutrients and help the soil retain the proper pH. Camellias do best in soils that are in the pH range of 5.5 to 6.5; if soil pH is incorrect, this may affect the ability of the camellia to absorb fertilizer. We carry Evergreen/Azalea Food with Systemic Insecticide, which can also help with scale. Here in the southeastern United States, it is recommended that camellias be fertilized in March, May and early July. Rake the mulch back to the drip line of the plant, and apply the fertilizer directly to the soil, watering thoroughly after application. A pH test is always suggested when plants have specific needs; we have simple test kits available. With any fertilizer, read and follow instructions carefully.
Watch for These Symptoms on Camellias
Camellias are susceptible to scale; treating with dormant oil and yearly with systemic insecticide soil drench can take care of this issue. The fertilizer suggested above also contains a systemic insecticide works well to control scale. Yellowing leaves might indicate a lack of iron; test pH and adjust if it’s over 6.5. Treating with an iron supplement may be necessary.
Want to see which Camellias are in stock? Check our Inventory!
Caring for Camellias
After you have finished your spring clean-up and pruning tasks, it is time for the real culturing of your camellia plants. Time and effort spent on these activities will result in greater rewards in beautiful flower production.
Fertilizers should be applied in an economic but methodical process to ensure a steady release of nutrients over the growing season. Applications can be applied a week or two before new growth buds begin to swell. It may be best to apply nutrition in small to moderate quantities of three or more periods from March to September. Higher nitrogen rates are best applied in spring, then changing to moderate nitrogen and phosphate, and to higher potassium in September.
When using nitrogen-containing fertilizers, “slow release” nitrogen forms are much more efficiently taken up by plants. Many growing camellias in containers use one of the organic sources of nitrogen, such as cotton seed meal, applied once a month all year long. Seed meals release nitrogen as they decompose slowly and continually continuously over the long stretch. Slow continuous release keeps plants well nutrified during the entire growing season.
Early application of nutrients is essential for flower bud development in that the petal count can be related to general growth vigor of plants. Super buds begin formation as day length increases during May. Plants should be in good growth form by this time. Plants will be showing flower buds by the first part of July.
Water is not only essential for normal growth but a continuous supply ensures constant mineral uptake and maximum expansion of cells making up the new growth. Irregular water supplies interrupt the growth process which can result in stunted leaves and stems. If flower buds are being formed during water stress, their quality will be affected.
Maximum water availability is even more important while flowers are opening. One needs to prepare a flexible watering program to include an irrigation system and a measuring device such as a simple rain gauge to ensure a constant water supply.
Major pruning should best be completed over winter or by early spring. While spring and summer growth develops, minor pruning can be accomplished by breaking out soft new growth.
The ultimate pruning plan will reflect one’s interests in camellia culture. Thick vegetation is the rule for landscape plants. Inside branches should be removed to reduce the accumulation of pests, scale in particular. Growers primarily interested in producing show flowers generally thin out more branches than those grown for landscape use. Flower buds are thinned, leaving large plump ones for show exhibition.
Pest control is a never-ending chore. While leaves and stems are young and tender, scale insects in the “crawler” stage move from last season’s old leaves up to new succulent growth; ants move aphids to the newest growing points; spider mites appear from nowhere!
Keep a constant lookout for these and other pests. When discovered, take immediate action. Your favorite garden center personnel or your county extension agent will be glad to help you select the appropriate control.
The camellia grower’s work is cut out for his or her cultivation schedule. Good nutrition, water control, light pruning and pest control result in beautiful blooms for the camellia flowering season.
How to Keep Those Older Camellias Trimmed : Pruning: Proper shaping can bring back plants that have been abuses or ignored and produce profusion of mid-winter blooms.
Most old camellias have either been ignored, abused or received only token attention for their mid-winter bloom.
“Sixty percent of homeowners don’t know how to handle old camellias” said Julius Nuccio co-owner and founder of Nuccios’ 55-year-old camellia and azalea nursery in Altadena.
Pruning an old camellia is not easily done. My own camellias made a thicket alongside the house and blocked our view from inside. Where to begin cutting them back?
For advice, I turned to Nuccio, to staff horticulturalist Ann Richardson of the Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino, where the camellias have received decades of care, and to Richard Frausto of Pasadena, the owner of a gardening business and a pruning expert.
Their tips apply mostly to the vigorous japonicas and sasanqua camellias. Modifications are noted for the lanky-stemmed, less resilient reticulatas, which seem to reject heavy pruning.
Clean, sharp hand clippers and loppers should be used for small branches, and a curved pruning saw reserved for larger limbs.
“Prune as it pleases you,” Nuccio advised. “If you want more flowers in your landscape prune right after blooming when the bush is in dormancy and before the new growth begins.”
“If cut flowers are more important to you, prune as you harvest,” Nuccio said.
The latest date for pruning is generally April 15 but it’s contingent on early-, mid- and late-blooming varieties and may vary with area and weather.
But camellias can be pruned all year, Nuccio said.
To illustrate the remarkable recovery power of japonicas and sasanquas, he pointed to hundreds of 3-year-old specimens in one-gallon cans at his nursery. Each had been pruned a year ago and had since grown almost three feet.
Here’s the way to tackle the pruning of an old camellia:
1–Consider your personal taste, the form of the existing shrub and the function the camellia is to perform. Ask yourself, “What do I want it to do?”
2–Examine the leader branch or branches. These are the strong, upright branches near the top of the plant. If a tree-shaped shrub is the goal, eliminate all but one leader on top and a single trunk at the base.
For a lower, shrub-shaped bush, remove all the vertical leaders and keep the most significant of the multiple trunks.
3–Proceed as you would in general pruning, removing all the dead wood, crossing branches, twiggy growth and any growth below a graft union.
Make cuts close to the connecting branch and seal the large cuts with a tree sealing compound. A squeeze bottle of water-based white glue is also a handy sealant for the smaller cuts.
4–Stand back again and study the exposed structure, keeping in mind that the new growth from last year’s wood will bear next season’s flowers.
5–Saw off remaining old stubs flush to the main branch. If the growth encroaches on a area where there is foot or vehicle traffic, cut off any branches facing that direction flush to the trunk.
6–Again observe your progress from a distance. Select and eliminate branches that upset the balance of the bush; branches on either side of the center should balance each other.
7–Remember that each pointed growth tip is a promise of another branch. Clip remaining branches so that the tips point in the direction you want the branch to go.
“The reluctant reticulatas, however,” Nuccio pointed out, “require more sensitive handling.” To prevent dieback on the lanky long branches, he made a cut above a growth bud of this year’s wood, just above the joint of last year’s wood.
If an open, lacy framework is preferred to bushiness, choose one of the multiple stems that may extend from a single branch. View it first from a distance to judge which one has the best potential, then remove the other. Do this on all of the major branches until as much as half of the foliage is removed.
In all cases, keep stepping back to study the structure of the plant, and you will likely make two observations.
One is the discovery of the bark’s previously hidden beauty resembling the patina, grain and gray color of weathered teak.
The second is the bareness of the now visible interior branches in contrast to the former bank of foliage. However, exposure to light rapidly stimulates new growth on this previously shaded wood.
Another, more drastic pruning method is called “dehorning,” and is not favored by Frausto since the two- to three-year process is unattractive and not always successful. It is reserved as a means of converting tall, top-heavy camellias into shrubs.
Side branches are removed along the entire trunk and a tuft of growth is left on top to regenerate new lower growth. During the second or third year, when new growth has developed on about the lower one-third of the trunk, the top is severed, leaving the regenerated shrub at the base.
If maintaining an open structure is the goal, watch during the growing season for new sprouts that appear on the main trunk as well as main branches. It is easier to rub them off as small green nubs than to go after them later with clippers.
The same precaution of early removal is also true for the tall “waterspouts”–vertical shoots on horizontal limbs–which sometimes are nature’s reaction to the trauma of pruning or limb damage.
Camellias have some unusual dictates, and the best pruning techniques are to no advantage if they are ignored. A shallow root system lays fine white filaments of vital feeder roots close to the surface of the soil and requires constant moisture and aeration.
The roots are damaged easily by too thick a mulch, accumulated silt from downhill irrigation, sinking of the bush or too-deep planting. The result will be little or no bloom, sickly plants from fungus disease or dieback. Reticulatas are particularly sensitive to root trauma.
Frausto recommends gently scraping off the excess surface covering with a trowel. If replanting is required, ball up the entire root system while the camellia is in full bloom and move it to a better location or position.
Best Tips For Growing Azaleas, Rhododendrons And Camellias
Camellia ‘R L Wheeler’
- If planting in a container go for the smaller evergreen azaleas or the yakushimanum rhododendrons. Deciduous azaleas can be grown in a container but they will have a limited lifespan as they can reach 9m (30’) grown in the ground.
- They are a woodland plant so would particularly suit a woodland garden, but make sure they are not too shaded otherwise they will produce fewer flowers.
- Avoid the species rhododendron if you have restricted space as they usually grow into large shrubs.
- Some of the deciduous azaleas have a delicious scent; particularly the yellow flowered Rhododendron luteum which grows to a height of 4.5m (15m).
For more information, hints and tips on making the most of your garden just get in touch with our Outdoor Plant team here in store.
Growers of Rare Camellias and Azaleas Since 1935
No other flowering shrub has contributed more to the gardens of America than the Azalea, especially when one considers that by properly choosing varieties, color in the garden can be had from October through June. Azaleas can be handled as pot plants, mass planting, specimens, tree types, espalier and hedges. The versatility of this plant is unlimited. However, most Azaleas are at their best when planted in groups or drifts. An ideal situation for them would be among high trees, so spaced, as to allow the sun and light to penetrate, yet providing intervals of shade to give the plants some respite from the hot sun. Where there are no trees, the north or east side of the house, or high fence, would be desirable. Although it is true that many Azaleas thrive in full sun, especially along the coastal areas, the Southern Indians are best suited for full sun planting.
Azaleas may be grown successfully in various acid soil mixtures, such as leaf mold (redwood, pine and oak), sand and light loam, but for best results, pure peat moss or 2/3 peat and 1/3 soil planting have proven best. The hole need not be over 15” deep and 18 to 24” in diameter. Do not set the plant lower or higher than it was originally growing. Always soak peat moss thoroughly before using. Fill around ball of plant firmly, and make certain that good drainage is maintained.
Azaleas, much like Camellias, should be moist at all times, but caution should be taken against their being WET at all times. Water well and deeply, but only as often as your own weather conditions demand. In areas such as Southern California, where summer months are dry and arid, one may generally expect to water once a week. Spraying of the foliage in the late afternoon of hot days is very beneficial.
Azaleas are basically light feeders and caution should be taken never to overfeed. Three to four feedings spaced from March through September (6 to 8 weeks) are sufficient. Cottonseed meal, or a commercial Camellia-Azalea food, should be used. In Southern California, use a tablespoon for each feeding of a plant which is about one foot high and one foot across. The labels on your fertilizer will generally advise you to cut the amounts in half for plants in containers. Never fertilize an Azalea when leaves show a yellow or paleness between the veins. This is usually caused by lack of available iron, and will, most often, respond to application of one of the many new chelated irons. Continue the use of iron, instead of fertilizer, until foliage becomes green.
Heavy pruning of undesirable branches should be done when they are at their peak of bloom and used as cut flowers. Most varieties of Azaleas require one good pinching or pruning of new spring growth in June or July, thus creating more branches and bushiness for fall bud setting. However, when plants are young and vigorous, such as the Southern Indicas, pruning on new growth should continue through September.
While Azaleas are comparatively free of insects and disease, the most commonly encountered pests are aphids and mites, mites being the more serious. Consult your local nurseryman for the sprays best suited for your area and spray only as needed.
How to Feed Rhodys, Azaleas and Camellias
These beautiful flowering shrubs are all over Oregon and Washington and have more flowers than foliage when in full bloom. They grow in a variety of gorgeous colors whites, lavender, reds, and purples and are a perfect addition to any landscape or garden.
Items you’ll Need:
Cultivator or Rake
E.B. Stone Organic Rhody, Azalea & Camellia Food
E.B. Stone Organics Azalea, Camellia & Acid Planting Mix
Step 1: Remove any existing mulch from around the plant
Step 2: Pour the recommended amount of E.B. Stone Organic Rhody, Azalea & Camellia Food at the base of the plant around the dripline (approximately 1-3 inches over the area)
Step 3: Make the first application in early spring when the buds start to swell. After you apply, then gently scratch the food into the surface of the soil (Feed plants 3x’s per year)
Step 4: If you need to add soil to the area and want to improve the existing soil, add a 1”-2” layer E.B. Stone Organics Azalea, Camellia & Acid Planting Mix around the base of the plant
Step 5: If weeds are a concern, then use a nice wood mulch of your choice to cover the base of the plant but keep it a couple inches away from the stem