Monday, March 1, 2010

Camellias: Fertilization and Pruning

Camellias have been a part of the southern landscapes for almost 200 years. Camellias flower in the fall and winter, but during the remainder of the year, their evergreen foliage, interesting shapes and textures, and relatively slow growth make camellias excellent landscape plants. Camellias perform best in partially shaded locations which are enhanced by good water drainage and air movement.

Pruning - Camellias should require little pruning if they are properly used in the landscape. Necessary pruning should be done in the late winter or very early spring. Prune by removing undesirable branches to retain a natural shape and branching habit. Shearing should be avoided because it will result in a dense layer of foliage that blocks light from interior branches. Shearing also destroys the natural plant form.

Fertilization - Due to the heavy leaching of nutrients from sandy soils, frequent and light applications are recommended. For example, 1/2 pound of 12-4-8 or 15-5-15 should be applied per 100 square feet of planting area four times a year. Applications are recommended 1) before spring growth begins, 2) after the first growth flush, 3) mid-summer, and 4) early winter after the danger of late growth has passed. Late summer fertilization may cause tender growth which may be injured by early cold periods. Water the plants before and after fertilizer applications.

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By Martha

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