Friday, January 19, 2007

Caring for Camellias

Camellias love acidic soil! General practices for growing camellias are similar to those for rhododendrons, azaleas, and hollies. Camellias do not require heavy feeding, so fertilizer should be used sparingly. An acidic fertilizer may be applied in early spring and followed by a second light application in June. recommends mixing in an organic material called "Holly Tone" to the root zone of your Camellia. Then, feed with a good acid based, water- soluble, fertilizer. Here are some more tips: Planting Careful planting is the single most crucial factor in ensuring success. In northerly areas, where the plants will be near the limit of their cold tolerance, spring planting is best. The site should afford protection in winter from strong winds, and morning sun. When planting, add a generous amount of humus such as compost, leaf mold, or coarse peat, to the soil. Be careful not to plant too deeply; as with azaleas and rhododendrons, the base of the stem should be slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Moisture A two-to four-inch layer of mulch is important to help the soil retain moisture, and to minimize alternate freezing and thawing in winter. During its first season, water a new plant thoroughly once a week, unless there has been at least one inch of rain. If the winter is a dry one, watering may also be necessary during mild spells. Pruning Plants may be pruned to remove weak or dead branches, to control size or leggy growth, or to renew the vigor of older plants. Heavy pruning is best done in spring, before the plants have begun to produce new growth.

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