Camellia season; Summer care and maintenance

Early sasanquas are spot flowering – that means camellia season is almost upon us.

It has been a tough start to summer – hot and dry – and our garden plants have suffered.

We are, however, far better off than many who have been devastated by fire and drought. We have been lucky to have received some 32mm of rain over the past 48 hours with more coming – according to the forecasts (here at Camellia Glen on the Sunshine Coast) and this seems to be somewhat widespread over most of the South East.

Even new season plants, under shade, in the Nursery, have had new foliage scorched. These will fall, and now that we have cooler summer temps – interesting I think it’s cooler when it only gets to 32 – and a bit of rain, these plants will recover and continue to put on new growth.

As usual at this time of the year, we discourage folk from planting out camellias – mid summer is not the best time to plant – wait until autumn or later into winter. This allows the largely dormant plants to settle into their new environment before the spring growing season. Having said that, we still sell a lot of camellias now – just be aware of the challenge.

Keep an eye on new growth and look for pesky aphids, loopers and caterpillars that like to chew on new growth. Hose or rub off aphids and squish the loopers. Look out for red spider mite damage – usually on the mature foliage lower on the bush where it is sheltered. Use organic alternatives to discourage these – we use a systemic miticide spray as a preventative and curative to keep the plants looking at their best.

Keep up water where you can, fertilise if you haven’t done that in spring, and mulch, mulch and mulch. Organic mulch like pine bark, wood chips, sugar cane mulch adds nutrient to the soil as it breaks down, it suppresses weed growth, retains moisture, and insulates the soil from the summer heat.

This is the latest time this season that you can prune – some sasanquas are putting on flower buds now – we even have some early flowers on Bonanza, Mikuni-Ko and Something Special – and you don’t want to cut them off. Japonicas will be budding up soon too so take care what you prune.

We will have some open days again this year starting after Easter – when the camellias will be starting to flower in earnest. We will post the program here when we know. Meanwhile, we continue to be available by arrangement – please call to arrange a mutually convenient time – 54450333.

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