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What Are the Best Tips for Growing Camellias?

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  • Written By: Drue Tibbits
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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Camellias provide beautiful flowers year after year if they are planted correctly and taken care of properly. One of the most important things for growing camellias is to plant them in slightly acidic soil. They also need a good supply of water and the right type of fertilizer. Gardeners grow these lovely plants for their attractive foliage or for their signature flowers. While their care requirements are fairly simple, there are specific things growers do to either increase the foliage or produce larger blooms.

Gardeners should check the acidity of the soil before planting as these plants grow best in substrates with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5. The addition of sulfur brings most soils into the correct pH range. Camellias do not perform as well near concrete or stone walkways or walls as these materials sometimes leak alkaline components into the soil. These plants will grow in everything from full sun to full shade, but partial shade is preferred.

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Most camellias begin as nursery cuttings or starts as seeds can take up to four months to germinate. Before planting a new camellia, growers should wash away the soil that surrounds the root ball to expose the roots. The new plants should be planted five feet (1.5 meters) apart or three feet (0.91 meters) apart if being grown as a hedge. The three-foot (0.91-meter) spacing allows the growing camellias to fill in the gaps. Once the plant is in the ground, keeping the soil moist until the plant is established and shows new growth is the best strategy for success.

An addition of a three-foot (0.91-meter) diameter earth berm around the plant helps the ground retain moisture. Mulch, placed inside the berm, also helps the soil stay moist. Growing camellias need thorough watering to help them develop deep root systems. These plants benefit from an application of fertilizer three or four times a year. Fertilizers containing higher amounts of nitrogen, such as 12-4-8, encourage dense, leafy growth, while fertilizers for flowering plants promote more flower development.

Camellias only need to pruning to remove dead or diseased branches or to maintain a desired shape. Gardeners prune during late winter or early spring to avoid removing new growth that will produce flowers. When growing camellias for flowers, growers thin the plant's leafy growth, leaving only the most robust branches for developing flowers.

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