Growing camellias


Material Information

Growing camellias
Series Title:
United States. Dept. of Agriculture. Home and garden bulletin
Physical Description:
12 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
United States -- Agricultural Research Service. -- Crops Research Division
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:
Slightly rev. Nov. 1966.


Subjects / Keywords:
Camellias   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Crops Research Division, Agricultural Research Service.
General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
"U.S. Government Printing Office: 1966 of-223-646"--P. 12.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004953319
oclc - 659760509
System ID:

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Kinds of camellias ... .
Buying plants...........
P l ni .g ..... .......
Planting site ..
Pl.1 a ing distance ..
Setting plants.......
C are ..................
M ulching ...........
Watering .........
Fertilizing .......
Adjusting soil acidity
Pruning ...........
Weeding ...........

. 3
.. 4
. 5
S 5
5. 5
.. 87

Preventing winter injury .. .
Potted plants............
Diseases. ................
D ie-back ..............
Flower blight.. .....
Leaf gall.............
Leaf scorch...........
Insects .........
Scales ............. ...
W hiteflies .............
M ealybugs ............
Fuller rose beetle ......
Rhabdopterus beetles. .
Mites..... ..........

. .
. .
. .. ..
. .
. .
. .


Each year, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture receives thousands of requests
for information about growing flowers.

In an effort to comply with these re-
quests efficiently, the Department has
prepared a series of publications on the
flowers that are most frequently the sub-

ject of inquiry. This bulletin is one of
the series.



Washington, D.C.

Slightly revised November 1966

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402 Price 10 cents


r 'I

Prepared by Crops Research Division, Agricultural Research Service

Camellias bloom when few other
plants do-in late fall, winter, and
early spring. These evergreen shrubs
will grow and bloom in light shade.
Though camellias are primarily plants
of the Deep South, their area of adap-
tation extends as far north as Long
Island, N.Y. In general, camellias can
withstand winter temperatures as low
as 10 F. You can grow camellias
anywhere if you can protect them from
temperatures lower than 10' and keep
their roots from freezing.
Like most other shrubs that grow in
shade, camellias are shallow rooted.
* They grow best in loose, fertile soil
that is slightly acid. They will not
tolerate poor dr.iin.ige.


Three species of camellias are in
general cull, n in the United States-

Camellia japonica, Camelia wasanaqa. and
C(Aiiii/lla r'tculata. Varieties of these
spc-ics have flowers that are red, pink, or
white, or combinations of these colors.
Camellia japoiica is the hardiest of
the three species. It is the best species
for planting along the Atlantic coast
north of the District of Columbia. This
species has glossy leaves. It blooms
from late winter through spring.
Came//ia sasanqua is almost as hardy
as C. jalponica: its northern limit of
hardiness along the Atlantic coast is
the District of Columbia. C. sasanqua
also has glossy leaves. It blooms in
October and November.
The tenderest of the camellias com-
monly grown in the United States is
Camellia reticulata. It can be grown
outdoors in southern California, but in
other areas it needs indoor protection
during the winter. This species has
dull-green leaves. It blooms in 'tril-.


' ,m .^


Camellias grow best where they have alternating sunshine and shade in summer,
complete shade in winter, and protection from winter wind.


Before buying plants, be sure you
know which varieties are adapted to
your area. For a list of varieties that
are adapted to your area, write to U.S.
National Arboretum, USDA, Wash-
ington, D.C., 20250. Nurserymen and
members of local garden clubs or
camellia societies can tell you which of
the adapted varieties are available in
your area.
Most nurseries offering camellias for
local sale sell them planted in a con-
tainer or with a burlap-wrapped ball
of soil around the roots. Most mail-
order nurseries sell camellias bare
rooted, to save shipping charges. Buy
co1mt1iner-riowni or balled-and-burlapped
plants if you can: they are easier to
csta lish suci cssfull than are bare-
rooted pILnmts.

Buy plants that are at least 2 years
old; plants of this age are 18 to 24
inches tall.
Be sure they are healthy. Inspect
plants for wounds or scars near the base
of the main stem. Wounded areas
may become cankerous and cause the
plant to die. Note: Grafted plants
may have a swollen area near the base
of the main stem; this is not a L.,-i of
poor health.
If you are selecting plants from a
group, select plants that arc weli
branched from the ground up. Choose
those that have the best shape and the
freshest, grcenest foili If you select
the plants with the greatest number of
healthy leaves, you probably will get
those with the best root systems.
Do not be misled by the size of the
containers. A vigorous plant growing
in a gallon can is better than a poor

plant in a 5-gallon can: the vigorous
plant will probably outgrow the por
one in a single season.


In general, fall is the best time for
planting camellias. towevcr, in Vir-
ginia, MNaryland, and States to the
north, spring planting is best.

Planting Site

STry to select a planting site that pro-
vides alternating sunshine and shade in
summer, complete shade in winter, and
protection from winter winds. A plant-
ing site under tall pine trees or on the
north side of a building can provide
these conditions.

Planting Distance

NMature camellias spread to 8 or 1t
feet in diameter. To allow for future
growth without crowding, set plants at
least feet away from buildings.
\hen using them as hedge plants, set
camellias 5 to 7 feet apart; this will
provide a compact hedge wxhen the
plants are fully grown.

Setting Plants

If your soil is well drained, dig
planting holes for your camellias. If
your soil is heavy and poorly drained,
*set the plants in mounds.

d P/'l,,,ti./, Holes

Dig planting holes about twice the
width and depth of the football. Refill
the hole slightly more than half full
with good soil. Tamp the soil to pro-
vide a firm base for the plant.

If the roots of the plant are balled
.ind burilppcd, \onu need not remov xe 11( e
burlap before setting t he plant in the
liole. After the plant is set, vou can
cut (the twine around tle to~ P ot the
football and told l back or cut off ex-
posed parts of tihe burlapl
It the planIt is in a conttainer, c ut
;away tihe side of tthe ctonitliner \witr
metal shears and remove the rotrball
carefully. Do not knock the rootball
from tihe can. \u are likely to injured
the roots if you do.
Pl:ce the plant11 in tie hole and pack
soil under the football until the plant
sits slihItly higher than it grew in the
container or nursery soil. Then refill
the rest of the liole with a mixture co)n-
sisting of equal parts soil and organic
matter--peat mn)ss, weathered sawdust,
or muck from fresh-water ponds. Press
the soil firm ly around the football and
water thoroughly.
After the plant has settled, its depth
should be the same as it was before
transplanting. Avoid planting too deep:
this is the most common cause of plant

A on C/ds

If you are setting the plant in a
mound, first dig a hole in the soil
about one-fourth to one-half the depth
of the football and the same diameter
as the football. Set the plant in the
hole and build a mound around it -with
a half-and-half mixture of topsoil and
peat moss.
Cover the football with soil mixture
to a height several inches above the
original soil level of the plant. Slope
the soil away from the plant so it ex-
tends 2 to 3 feet from the football.
Then scoop the loose soil away from
the base of the main stem to form a


' '


A. Dig a hole the same diameter as the football and about one-half its depth.
B. Set the football in the hole.
C. Cover the football with a mixture of soil and organic matter; slope the soil
:A\tav from the plant.
I). IFormi a basin around the stem for watering, and water thoroughly to settle
the soil.

basin for holding water. Fill the basin
with water and soak the mound thor-
oughly to settle the soil around the
plant's roots.



Apply a mulch after planting and
maintain it continuously. Mulching re-
duces fluctuations in soil temperatures,
conserves soil moisture, and helps to
prevent weeds from growing.
For mulching material use granulated pine needles, or weathered saw-
dust; apply it 2 to 3 inches deep over
the root zone. Oak leaves, forest debris,
tba..,e, and other similar coarse ma-
terials also are satisfactory if kept at a
depth of 2 to 4 inches.

Normal rainfall ordinarily provides
enough moisture for mulched camellias.
During droughts, however, the plants
should be watered at weekly intervals.
When you water, soak the ground


Camellias may need light fertilizing
during the first growing season. Apply
in spring when the plants are beginning
After the first growing season, organic
Smatter usually furnishes enough nutri-
ents to the plants. If the plants are
making 6 to 8 inches of new growth a
year, no fertilizer is needed. Overfer-
tilizing-a common practice-promotes
loose, open growth that spoils the com-
pact habit of the plant. Overfertilizing

also increases the susceptibility of the
plants to winter injury.
If fertilizer is needed, broadcast cot-
tonseed meal over the r1ot ar ea at
rate of 8 to 16 ounces per plant. Or
use a fertilizer formulated especially for
camellias. These special formulations
are available at garden-supply stores.
Apply them according to the directions
on the package.
Do not fertilize after July 1.
Do not use lawn fertilizers on camel-
lias; these fertili/Crs are ofttcn alk tline.

Adjusting Soil Acidity

Camellias grow best in acid soil.
The soils in most areas where camellias
can be grown are acid enough for good
growth. In some areas, however, the
soil is too alkaline, and acid must be
If the soil is not acid enough for
camellias, the leaves turn yellow and
the plant grows slowly, even though it
has been adequately fertilized and watered.
Your county agricultural agent can ar-
range to have your soil tested.
To increase acidity, apply powdered
sulfur to the soil. Use 1 pound of sul-
fur per 100 square feet in sandy or
loamy soils or 2 pounds per 100 square
feet in clay soils. Water the sulfur into
the soil.
Repeat the application in 1 or 2
months if the plant fails to regain its
normal color and growth.


Camellias grow well without pruning.
You may want to prune your plants,
however, to remove dead, injured, or
diseased branches, or to reduce the size
of the plants.

The best time to prune is after the
plants have bloomed. Make pruning
cuts back to a bud or a larger branch.
Treat pruning wounds larger than
one-half inch in diameter with a tree-
wound dressing to prevent harmful fungi
from invading the branches.


Pull weeds out b\ hand. Do not use
hoes or other tools: they may injure the
surface roots of the plants.


dormant. In
to the south,

camellias when they are
North Carolina and States
move the plants in fall,

winter, or spring. In States to the
north, move them only in the spring.
Dig a good-sized ball of earth to pro-
tect the roots from drying. Dig a ball
about i3 inches in diameter for a 2- to
3-foot plant. Add 2 inches to the
diameter for each foot of height greater
than 2 to 3 feet. Make the depth of
the ball about three-fourths of its diam-
eter-9 or 10 inches for a 13-inch ball, 10
to 12 inches for a 15-inch ball.
Follow instructions on page 5 for re-
planting the camellia.
Camellias can be moved in warm L
weather but at greater risk than when
the plants are dormant. If you move
them in warm weather and the plants
wilt, spray the leaves with water several
times a day.

BN- 15 4 6
Conltainer-,_,.rP. n camellias can be
transplanted in the garden or can be
*in asi potted plants.


The first step in preventing winter
injury to camellias is selection of vari-
eties that are adapted to your area.
The second step is selection of a plant-
ing site that protects plants from winter
sun and wind.
Even after you have selected a hardy
variety and have planted it in a favor-
able location, your plants may be winter
injured by sudden cold weather or by
soil freezing.
Though camellias are hard to 10
when they are dormant, a sudden drop
to below-freezing temperatures after
warm fall weather may injure new
growth and buds. If a sudden cold
snap is forecast after warm weather, you
can protect your camellias to some ex-
tent by covering them at night with
cloth, plastic, or paper tents. Support
the covering above the plants so it does
not touch the plants. Remove the cov-



ering materials as soon as the weather
warms to normal.
When the soil freezes, leaves and
stems of the camellia cannot get water
from the roots and the top of the plant
may become dehydrated. However, if
you maintain a good mulch on the soil
surface, it will keep the soil from fitrez-
ing too deeply.


Camellias can be grown in containers
indefinitely if they are given the proper
care. Their requirements are essentially
the same as for plants grown outdoors-
partial shade, adequate moisture, rich
soil, and good di ,
If the plant you buy from the nursery
is container grown, you need not trans-
plant it unless you want a more attrac-
tive container. Nursery plants usually
arc potted in gi od soil. If your plant
outgrows its container, you can trans-
plant it at any time of the year.
Use a potting soil made of one-fourth
woods mold, one-fourth sand, and one-
half peat moss. Place a 1-inch layer of
gravel at the bottom of the new con-
tainer to provide drainage.
Water the plants heavily, then allow
the soil to dry moderately before water-
ing again. The critical period in water-
ing occurs in spring when the plants
are growing rapidly. They need much
more water then than at any other time
of the year.
During the hot summer months,
spray the leaves with water every after-
noon. Spraying keeps the air humid
around the plants.
Fertilize potted plants monthly
through,, ut the year. For monthly feed-
ings from March through July, use a

liquid fert izer, analysis 15-5-5. In
August through February use a 7-(-19
liquid fertilizer. Do not overfertili/c:
it is better to feed too little than to)
much. Never fertilize a dry plant.
Potted camellias may be pruned any
time of the year to control their size
and maintain their shtape. When cut-
ting a bloom, take two or three leaves
with it. This will help to maintain the
shape of the plant.
You may want to disbud vyour plant
to obtain large specimen blooms. 'Th
best time to disbud is when you are
able to distinguish the flower bud from
the growth bud. For early blooming
varieties this ma\ be as e.trl\ as mid-
summer. For mid- or late-blooming
varieties, disbudding is best done in
September or October.
To disbud, use a la-.' pin or a
sililtgle nail to picrce a hole from the
tip of the bud downward. This allows
air to enter the bud so it will dry and
fall off naturally, thus < llii, n i:;i pos-
sible injury to the adjoining bud that
Vyo want to keep.
In some parts of southern California,
southern Texas, and Florida. potted ca-
mellias can be left outdoors all winter.
In other areas it is best to move them
in winter to some place where their
roots will be protected from freezing.
They can be taken indoors and will
bloom there if the room temperatures
can be kept between 35' and 50 and
the humidity held reasonably high.


Inspect your plants frequently for the
signs of camellia diseases described be-
low. Treat these diseases promptly.

The shriveled leaves on the right are
affected with die-back. The diseased
branch should be cut off and burned.

New growth dies; cankers form at base
of affected stems. Cut off diseased stems
below the cankers and burn them. If
pruning wounds are over one-half inch
in diameter, treat with tree-wound dress-
Flower Blight
Small dark spots appear on flowers and
later merge. Affected flowers are quickly
destroyed. For control recommendations,
consult your county agricultural agent or
your State agricultural experiment station.

Leaf Gall
New leaf tissues swell; whitish fleshy
galls form on leaves in summer. Cut
off and burn affected twigs.

Leaf Scorch
Leaves appear scorched. May be caused
by cold weather, too much sun, lack of
watcr, lack 4f fertilizer, too much ferti-
lizer, or deep planting.
Any of the above conditions may also
cause camellias to fail to bloom. Con-
sistent failure of plants to bloom, how-

ever, usually indicates that the variety is
unsuitable for the area.

Camellias may be severely damaged
by insects unless they are protected by
prompt application of insecticides. No
one insecticide will control all pests of
camellias. To select an effective insec-
ticide you must first identify the insect
or its characteristic plant injuries. Rec-
ommended insecticides are available at
garden-supply stores. Follow label direc-
tions for dilution and care in handling.
Warning: Never use DDT on camel-
lias; it injures certain varieties.

The leaves or bark of camellias fre-
quently become encrusted with hard-
shelled insects known as scales. The in-
sects feed on plant juices and cause in-
jury or death to the plant.
The most common species of scales
found on camellias are tea scale, peony
scale, and Florida wax scale.

The young insects of all species are
tiny, flat, and yellow; they can be seen
crawling on leaves in summer.
Some characteristics of the adult scales
are as follows:
Tea scale.-Brownish shell, about Vi6
inch long. Causes yellow blotches on
upperleaf surfaces; infested leaves drop
off prematurely.
Peony scale. -Grayish brown; grows to
about Vio inch long. Burrows beneath
bark of twigs and stems and feeds on
plant juices; infested areas swell, later
sink; smaller stems die quickly. Pro-
duces one generation of young a season;
other species, several generations.
Prepared by Entomology Research Divi-
sion, Agricultural Research Service.



/- i.'.i wax scale. Reddish-brown body
with thick, white or slightly pink waxy
coating. Grows to about '/1o inch long.
Causes stunting or dying of plants.

Spray infested plants with summer-oil
emulsion in early spring, before plant
growth starts. Use 5 tablespoons of
summer-oil emulsion in I gallon of water
for tea scale. UIse 10 tablespoons of sum-
mer-oil emulsion in a gallon of water for
peony and Florida wax scales.
To kill young crawlers of all species,
spray leaves and twigs with malathion
or dimethoatc. Spray when crawlers arc
first observed -in May, June, or July.
Apply spray three or more times at 10-
to 15-day intervals.

Adult whiteflies are very tiny; they
have pale-yellow bodies and white-pow-
dered wings. They feed on underleaf
surfaces and cause black, sooty deposits
on the leaves.
To destroy overwintering young, spray
foliage with a summer-oil emulsion in
early spring before plant growth starts.
Use 5 tablespoons of summer-oil emul-
sion in 1 gallon of water.
For summer infestation spray with
malathion, dimethoate, or lindane. Make
two or three applications at weekly inter-
vals. Use either 2 teaspoons of 57-per-
cent malathion emulsifiable concentrate,
or 23.4 percent dimethoatc emulsifiable
concentrate, or 1 teaspoon of 25-percent
lindane emulsifiable concentrate per gal-
lon of water.

Adult mealybugs are oval or elongated
about 1/ inc long, with a white waxy
or mealy covering. Black sooty molds
on leaves followed by wilting and dying

of the leaves are signs of infestation by
Mcalybugs are usually found in clusters
along the veins and undersides of leaves
or in crotches of twigs. They secrete a
sticky honeydew that attracts ants; the
ants feed on the honeydew and spread
the mealybugs to other plants.
The first step in oiintrolliin mclPibus
is to eliminate ants in tllhe ai rdn. Soak
the soil with a mixture of 2 level tca-
spoons of 1(o-per cnt ( hloliranc wct calIc
powder per 3 gallons )of wa ,teir tor ()
slluare fcct.
The second step is to kill the mealy-
bugs. Spray with malathion or dimeth-
oatc as for whiteflies when they are first
observed. Spray two or three more times
at 10-day intervals.

Fuller Rose Beetle
The fuller rose beetle leaves black ex-
crement on leaves and eats notches in
the leaf margins. This pest is common
on camellias in the South.
The adult beetle has a brown or 'raj.
ish body. It is about %8 inch long and
has a white diagonal stripe across each
Spray or dust plants with chlordane or
lindane about July 1 and repeat 2 weeks
later. Use 2-percent lindane dust or 6-
percent chlordane dust; or spray with
1 teaspoon of 25-percent lindane emulsi-
fiable concentrate or 1 / level table-
spoons of chlordane wettable powder per
gallon of water.
Rhabdopterus Beetles

Several kinds of shiny black or bronze
beetles, about V4 inch long, eat long
narrow holes in the foliage of camellias.
These insects feed by ni.iht and hide by
day. Spray plant with lindane when
leaf injury is first observed. Use the
same lindane spray as for whiteflies.

Speckled leaves that later turn rusty
brown are a sign of the southern red mite.
This dark-red pest is common on camel-
lias throughout the South. It attacks
both upperleaf and lowerleaf surfaces. It
lays shiny eggs that resemble red pepper.
Feeding injury starts in April and con-
tinues until fall. Injured leaves do not
recover, but control measures will pre-
vent injury to new growth.


Insecticides used improperly can cause
injury to man and animals. Use them
only when needed and handle them with
care. Follow the directions and heed all
precautions on the labels.
Keep insecticides in closed, well-
labeled containers in a dry place. Store
them where they will not contaminate
food or feed, and where children and
animals cannot reach them.
When handling an insecticide, wear
clean, dry clothing.
Avoid repeated or prolonged contact
of insecticides with your skin.
Wear protective clothing and equip-
ment if specified on the container label.
Avoid prolonged inhalation of insecticide
dusts or mists.
Avoid spilling insecticide concentrate
on your skin, and keep it out of your
eyes, nose, and mouth. If you spill any
on your skin, wash it off immediately
with soap and water. If you spill it on
your clothing, remove clothing imme-
diately and wash contaminated skin.
Launder the clothing before wearing it
After handling an insecticide, do not
eat, drink, or smoke until you have
washed your hands and face. Wash any
exposed skin immediately after applying
an insecticide.
Avoid drift of insecticide to nearby


ill I3 1262 08856 1 1111111111111111
3 1262 08856 1351

When injury is noted, spray foliage
with dicofol (Kelthane). Use 3 level
teaspoons of 18.5-percent dicofol wettable
powder or 1 teaspoon of 18.5-percent
dicofol emulsifiable concentrate in 1 gal-
lon of water. Repeat spraying in 10 days.

Trade names are used in this publication solely
for the purpose of providing specific information.
Mention of a trade name does not constitute a guar-
antee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture.

wildlife habitats, bee yards, crops, or
Many insecticides are highly toxic to
fish and aquatic animals. Keep insecti-
cides out of all water sources such as
ponds, streams, and wells. Do not clean
spraying equipment or dump excess spray
material near such water.
To protect honey bees and other pol-
linating insects that are necessary in the
production of many crops, apply insecti-
cide, when possible, during hours when
the insects are not visiting the plants.
Bury empty insecticide containers at a
sanitary land-fill dump, or crush and
bury them at least 18 inches deep in a
level, isolated place where they will not
contaminate water supplies. If you have
trash-collection service, thoroughly wrap
small containers in several layers of
newspapers and place them in the trash
After they are mixed with water,
methoxychlor, dicofol, and malathionO l
can be used safely without special protec-
tive clothing or devices. Before mn\ing,.
however, the concentrates require special
Chlordane, dimethoate, and lindane
can be absorbed directly through the skin
in harmful quantities. When x,\ rking
with these insecticides in any form, take
the same precautions as with concentrates.


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