PRESS BULLETIN 604
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
HAROLD MOWRY, Director
By R. J. WILMOT
Assistant Horticulturist, Florida Experiment Station
Two species of camellias, C. japonica Linn. and C. Sasanqua
Thunb., are commonly grown in Florida, the former in large
numbers. Sasanquas are growing in popularity, however, be-
cause of their early fall flowering habit. They are willowy and
open in growth with a profusion of single or semi-double small
white, pink or red flowers.
There are hundreds of varieties of japonica, with new ones
appearing every season. They are so variable in form and color
that it is suggested that individuals visit the nurseries when the
plants are in bloom and select those they prefer.
Both japonicas and Sasanquas require an acid soil, well sup-
plied with organic matter and moisture. They will not tolerate
an alkaline or water-logged soil. They will do best in partial
shade such as is furnished by pine trees, but some varieties can
be grown in full sun. In the lower half of the state it is believed
that early varieties will produce better flowers. They have
the reputation of being slow growing, but if properly fertilized
and watered they will make excellent growth year after year.
Camellias are commonly transplanted in winter, while dor-
mant, but may be moved after they have made the spring flush
of growth, provided they are shaded and well watered. Care
should be taken in transplanting to set them at the same depth
at which they grew previously because plants set too deep will
deteriorate rapidly. Sufficient space should be allowed for speci-
men plants to make maximum growth.
An oak leaf mulch around the base of the plant will help to
conserve soil moisture, keep the soil acid, and furnish some
necessary plant food. The mulch will also keep down weeds
and obviate cultivating around the plants. Camellias are very
shallow-rooted and cultivation is detrimental. Other recom-
mended mulches are cow manure and pine straw.
The plants should be fertilized at least twice a year. For the
first application a double handful of fertilizer is applied thinly
as a ring under the spread of a 2-foot plant, as soon as the plant
finishes flowering. The second application should be made in
late June. A recommended fertilizer is mixed at the rate of 1
pound ammonium sulphate, 2.8 pounds cottonseed meal, castor
pomace or milorganite, 1.7 pounds sulphate of potash, 3.5 pounds
superphosphate, and 1 pound of aluminum sulphate or ordinary
agricultural sulphur. This is approximately a 4-6-8 mixture.
Most seed and plant stores carry a ready-mixed azalea-camellia
Camellias may be propagated by seeds, cuttings or grafting.
Seeds should be planted as soon as they ripen, in flower pots
or flats where they can be protected from rodents. They will
germinate in 2 or 3 months and should have the tip of the tap-
root pinched back when they are transplanted to induce lateral
roots. Seedlings make excellent stocks upon which to graft
Tip cuttings 3 to 5 inches long should be taken when the wood
is about half-hardened (June-July). A box 7 to 9 inches deep
provided with drainage is filled to within 2 inches of the top
with clean, sharp sand. The cuttings with 3 leaves intact are
plunged in the sand at an angle so that the leaves lie almost flat
on the surface. A cheesecloth cover is provided and the box is
set in a shady place and watered every day through the cheese-
cloth. Rooting will be hastened if the cuttings are treated with
a satisfactory root-inducing substance. When they are well
rooted they are transplanted to a nursery row or to pots.
A cleft graft is used when propagating plants by grafting
and this is best done in February. After the scion is inserted,
the plant is covered by an inverted glass jar shaded with a
piece of burlap to keep the sun's rays from burning the foliage.
INSECTS AND DISEASES
Camellias are attacked by at least 3 species of scale-insects,
all of which may be controlled by spraying with a 1 or 2 percent
white oil emulsion. They should be sprayed as soon as all
danger of cold is over, wetting the undersides of the leaves
thoroughly. In case of a bad infestation, repeat in 6 weeks.
A clean-up spray should be made in September.
During a dry period the plants are frequently attacked by
mites, causing the upper surfaces of the leaves to take on a
greyish appearance. The mites may be controlled by keeping
the plants sprayed with water or by an application of sulphur
Camellias may be attacked by 2 fungous diseases, diebackk"
and leaf gall. The former reveals itself as a twig or branch
suddenly drying up with the leaves intact. When this occurs
prune back to live green wood and keep the plants covered with
either 4-4-50 bordeaux or flordo, as described in Press Bulletin
547. Leaf gall is found on the new growth with the affected
parts swollen, misshapen, and covered with a powdery substance.
The affected parts should be hand picked and burned.