HAVE a problem (among many!) with some camellias. They are suddenly
becoming covered with brown leaves. They have been in my garden
for just over a year and not grown very much but have borne plenty
of flowers. Having looked in a book we have on plant problems, it
would seem that the plants are lacking fertiliser, so I fed them
However, on the bag of
fertiliser, it says to be used in spring or autumn. It doesn't actually
say one dose but that's how I read it. They really are bad and I
wonder if a second application would be OK and would not cause any
further damage. I also wondered if a dose of Epsom salts would help.
examining your plants, it's hard to say exactly what is causing
the problem, but as they've only been in the ground a year, I think
it's more likely to be a root problem than lack of nutrients in
Root damage often doesn't
show until spring or early summer when the upper parts of the plant
start into growth. If the damaged root system can't supply the leaf
growth demand, a variety of deficiency symptoms can occur, including
yellowing and browning of the foliage.
The damage to the roots
of your plants may have occurred as long ago as last autumn during
a drought, or over winter when the soil was very wet.
Don't give them any
more fertiliser until at least autumn, by which time you'll know
how well they are recovering.
Also, do whatever you
can to keep the soil moist over summer - mulch the soil surface
and water regularly.
It's also worth remembering
that camellias grow best in relatively acidic soil, so avoid using
lime anywhere near them. Lime prevents acid-loving plants from being
able to draw some nutrients from the soil which can cause leaf yellowing
and, in extreme cases, browning. Newly laid concrete drives or paths
can also release lime into the soil nearby and have a similar effect
on acid-loving plants.
Gardener, Issue 134, 2003, Page 30
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.