Friday, 10 February 2012

Plant of the Month for February Camelia

Camellias are one of the best garden plants to use for adding real splash of colour in the dark winter months.

A wonderful plant to grow in the garden, or as a specimen in a container. They grow particularly well in a container provided the container is placed out of the early morning sun in frosty weather. They prefer acid soil, so use ericaceous compost if growing in a container.
Camellias are woodland plants and do best when planted in a sheltered or shady position. They can be grown in a more exposed position if watered carefully.

They can be grown quite succesfully in the open ground here in West Dorset they will just need treating with sequestrine granules once a year to stop thier leaves yellowing.

Camellias thrive in a free draining spot with plenty of humus in the surrounding soil. Mulching with leaf mould is very beneficial. Depending on the cultivar, you can have flowering from November through to April. The range of flower types and colours is vast, from light pinks to dark reds and stunning whites.

There are singles, doubles, and other flower forms available to suit your taste such as Camellia japonica, x williamsii,’Donation’, ‘Debbie’ and ‘Anticipation’.
Camellias grow well with other ericaceous plants such as Rhododendron, Pieris, and Enkianthu, deciduous and evergreen azaleas.

One of the biggest problems with camellias is probably that of sooty mould. This is a black fungus that grows on the leaves of camellias that is actually the by-product of sap sucking insects that excrete a sugary substance called “honeydew” onto the leaves. The fungus then feeds on the honeydew. If you find that your camellia becomes covered in this black substance (it looks like soot) then you need to treat it with an insecticide. Soapy water will do the trick or even better a systemic insecticide such as Provado Ultimate Bug Killer.

However whilst this will stop any more sooty mould being produced won't remove the mould that is already there. That I am afraid is down to a cloth and some soapy water. It will come off easy enough, it’s just a bit of a fiddle!

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