Sick camellia

Question: sick camellia

Good morning! First of all, congratulations for the fantastic site, which I often visit to get the news and advice for my gardening passion. Today I find myself with a problem, which I cannot understand and solve by myself, so I thought, that you could help me. I have a camellia japonica, which is 5 years old and in the early years gave me a beautiful red flowering and foliage every spring vigorous, but two years I do not understand what happens: they last did 4-5 buds and began to have this bare state, sick I would say. this year she didn't even make a bud and I see she's suffering so much and I don't know how to help her. Its leaves are half-brown and even the branches dry up. My garden is in Pontedera. It is never so cold. A little warm yes - in summer, but refreshing it by spraying it in the morning with water. Please give me advice what to do to save it. Thanks in advance! regards!

Answer: sick camellia

Dear Svetlana,
camellias are beautiful shrubs, abundantly flowering, originating from Asia, which live in nature in a cool and humid climate; when a shrub tends to produce less and less flowers over time, it is usually a problem due to cultivation, and I think it is so also in your case, given that in addition to not flowering, your plant also begins to have foliage ruined and a suffering aspect. Since I do not know how to cultivate it, I try to give you some general suggestions on how to grow camellias, so that you can then understand where you are wrong and where you are already acting in the best way. First of all, the climate considers the largest Italian exhibition dedicated to camellias to be held every year, in the late winter months, in Verbania Pallanza, on Lake Maggiore; clear that if in Verbania the camellias can be placed in full sun, in Pontedera it is perhaps the case to let them enjoy a little shade, especially during the hottest months, to avoid that they enjoy an excessively hot and dry climate; therefore you do very well to vaporize the hair, but besides this, if your plant is in full sun, it would be advisable to shade it slightly. Camellias love an acid soil, and in most Italian gardens instead the soil is not suitable for these plants, and should therefore be periodically corrected with particular iron-rich fertilizers; every 3-4 years, however, it is advisable to replace most of the land in which the plant is located, even if it is in full ground. You can also think about giving a few inches of soil every year and replacing it with soil suitable for acidophilic plants; if the acidophilic plants are in an excessively basic soil, they tend not to be able to absorb the iron from the soil, and therefore they are unable to produce chlorophyll: the leaves become increasingly yellowish and the plant suffers, because it fails to carry out the chlorophyll photosynthesis and therefore "does not eat". If you think about the climate on Lake Maggiore, in addition to the fresh immediately think of a constant humidity, the camellias come from cool and humid areas, with frequent rains; in fact they don't like that the soil remains dry for a long time, and they need regular watering, especially when the climate is warm. If we water often, we must also try to avoid leaving the soil always soaked, which would cause the suffocation of the roots; then water regularly, from March to October, a little less in the other months (if it is very cold or if it rains a lot we can also avoid watering), avoiding watering if the soil is still damp. If the waterings are scarce, the plant shows burns on the edge of the foliage, and its leaves face downwards, I would say flies; if, on the other hand, we water too much, rot, mold and fungus develop easily, causing leaf yellowing, leaf loss, apical rotting of the twigs. Besides all this, most of the plants that we find in the nursery, especially those with large and showy flowers, are hybrids, cultivated in the first years of life with regular fertilization; when we bring these plants home, the fertilizers they have in the growing soil still last a few weeks (sometimes months), but then we will have to make up for the lack of minerals in the soil; therefore it is important to provide the right fertilizer, in the months of vegetative growth, in the case of the camellia from after flowering until autumn, when the plant prepares the buds for the following year. A good fertilizer for acidophilic flowering plants also exists in slow release granules, which you can then supply even just a couple of times a year, and will gradually dissolve with the water used for watering.