Brown Leaves on a Camellia

Updated February 21, 2017

Camellia (Camellia spp.) is an evergreen shrub grown for its roselike flowers---single or double---in shades of white, pink or red. Camellias reach 6 to 12 feet in height and prefer moist, well-drained, acidic soil. A fungal disease leads to brown leaves on the shrubs.


Camellia is susceptible to camellia root rot, which is caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. The soil-borne fungus spreads to plants through water, soil or debris. Camellias grown in containers or in poorly drained soil are highly prone to the disorder.


Initial indication of infection is poorly growing plants with declining health. Stunted growth, limpness and yellowing or browning of foliage are among symptoms, which also include late-opening buds, bud drop and tip dieback. As the disease progresses, infected plants wilt and die rapidly, often within a few days. Lesions appear on roots.


Planting resistant varieties of camellias, using quality, well-draining soil, and avoiding the selection of oversized containers offer protection. Chemical control strategies include the use of fosetyl-al foliar spray.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.