Spruce up your camellias after flowering to keep them neat, as these handsome evergreens can start to look a little messy as their winter and spring blossoms fade. These drooping blooms not only look unsightly, they can become problem spots, encouraging pests and fungal diseases to set in and infect the rest of the plant too.
Check over the bush every few days as petals start browning and pull away or snip off dead or dying flowers. Make sure you cut off the whole flower including any swellings at the base which may be turning into fruit. This will make sure the plant puts all its energy into making healthy leaf growth rather than forming fruits and seeds.
Camellias are among the easiest of early spring flowerers to look after, as they hold their naturally handsome shape without any need to prune. All they need each spring after flowering is a quick check for dead, damaged or diseased growth which should be cut out at the base.
Now is also a good time to add to your collection as spring is the ideal time to plant camellias, allowing them all season to get a good root system established before bursting into bloom next winter. Pop into the garden centre here in Dublin this week and you’ll find an excellent selection to choose from.
Camellias grow best on acidic soils (with a pH of less than 7); if your soil isn’t perfect, though, they are quite happy in containers of ericaceous (acidic) compost. They prefer a spot in dappled shade – under the canopy of a tree is ideal. Avoid east-facing spots, where frosty mornings can brown the flowers and south-facing areas which are too hot and dry for them. Keep well watered, especially in summer when next year’s flower buds are forming, and look forward to a fabulous display next winter!