How to Take Care of Camellia Bushes

Written by bridget kelly
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How to Take Care of Camellia Bushes
Float cut camellias in a shallow bowl of water. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The camellia bush is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 and 8, although there are some varieties that will do well in zone 6, according to North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. Camellias are not a difficult plant to care for and fill the off season garden with pops of soft colour. The most important aspect of a camellia bush's care is the amount of sun it receives. A partially sunny site that protects the plant from early morning and late afternoon sun is ideal.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fertiliser
  • Small shovel
  • Mulch
  • Insecticidal soap spray
  • Hand pruners

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  1. 1

    Fertilise a camellia bush for the first time in March, when you first see buds. Fertilise twice more between March and August. Use a formula that is recommended for camellias and apply at the rate instructed on the label. Spread the fertiliser on the soil at the widest part of the camellia bush and water to soak the soil to the roots.

  2. 2

    Water the camellia to keep the soil moist to a depth of 14 inches. The soil should never be soggy, just slightly moist. Until you determine how long to water to reach a depth of 14 inches, dig a small 14-inch deep hole, 6 inches away from the camellia bush and check the moisture content of the soil after watering.

  3. 3

    Broadcast a 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil around the camellia bush. Spread the mulch out to the plant's drip line.

  4. 4

    Check the camellia bush for aphids and spider mites periodically. These are the plant's two most common pests and they can be controlled with insecticidal soap sprays. Spray the product directly on the pests, at the rate listed on the label.

  5. 5

    Prune the camellia bush in early spring with hand pruners, before it begins producing new growth. Cut all dead and weak branches back to their points of origin. If the bush is overgrown you can cut it back to half its size. Although this won't harm the plant, you may lose your flowers in the upcoming season.

Tips and warnings

  • Camellias prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH level from 5.5 to 6.5.
  • A camellia will die if its roots stay wet. Plants should be replanted in a raised bed or on a mound if the soil is consistently damp.

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