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Camellias on the move

Take advantage of this cooler period to move plants to a healthier spot in your back yard.

Camellia reticulata flowers August is a great month for transplanting. Most plants are sitting quietly and waiting for the weather to become warmer before they start to make new growth. Gardeners can take advantage of this period to move plants that may benefit from a new position in the garden.

Camellias are good examples. Camellias flourish in the right spot, but tend to sulk or suffer from leaf burn and bud drop if they're in too much sun or if the soil is too dry. If a camellia is unhappy, a new position may be the only thing that will save it. Many other plants, too, will benefit from being moved.

The very first thing to do is to select a better position in the garden. Sasanqua camellias are very tolerant and will grow almost anywhere, but japonica camellias prefer more shelter. Aristocratic reticulate camellias (pictured) also enjoy shade when they are young but seem able to grow up into the full sun as they mature. Reticulata camellias, with super-large, full blooms and huge leaves, will eventually develop into small trees and need plenty of room to spread.

So, if you've decided you really need to move your plant and you've selected the new spot, before doing anything else spend some time improving the soil in the chosen position. Add a soil conditioner such as Yates Hauraki Gold Peat Moss to the soil. Peat moss is acidic, natural, water-holding organic matter that will help to keep the root system moist during dry periods.

Dig a hole that is large enough to take the root system of the plant. The size of the hole will depend on the extent of the plant's root system, but remember it will be almost physically impossible to move by hand anything that's more than about a metre across. Mix in some organic matter such as BioGold organic pellets.

Transplanting steps:

  • Water well, and allow the excess water to drain away. 
  • Dig carefully around the roots and lift gently with minimal root disturbance.
  • Wrap the root ball with hessian or heavy duty plastic to hold it intact.
  • Move the plant to the ready-prepared new spot.
  • Place the plant carefully into the hole. Make sure that the plant is facing the same aspect as before and that the roots are no deeper than they were in the previous position.
  • Water well, making sure you get the water into the roots.
  • Mulch with compost.
  • If the plant needs support, place a stake on either side and secure the plant with a soft figure-of-eight tie. Remove stakes as soon as possible.

If the plant is in flower when you move it, you may lose some of the flowers, but when the plant's long-term interests are taken into account this will be a small price to pay.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH
 
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Last updated: June 2, 2004