HAVE a highly fragrant camellia that normally flowers each year,
but this year it didn't even bud. I also have an old-fashioned lilac
that has been in at least four years and it has never flowered,
even though it is in a nice sunny spot with afternoon sun. Both
plants are well watered during summer. I was told at the nursery
to try potash. What do you think?
not unknown for lilacs to take a few years to flower after planting,
but four years is rather a long time. And for the camellia to previously
flower then miss a year is quite unusual.
I asked camellia expert
and breeder Neville Haydon for his opinion and he suggests that
if the camellia is in reasonable soil and in good health it should
be able to look after itself over summer without much extra watering.
In normal conditions camellias put on most new growth in the couple
of months immediately following flowering. This growth usually stops
around mid-summer, matures and sets flower buds in autumn. Neville
says extra watering could encourage more than normal late summer
and autumn growth, which would probably not be mature enough to
set flower buds and it might also inhibit bud set on the earlier
The lilac could be in
the same situation. So I recommend you cut out the extra summer
watering unless drought conditions are severe. Potash does encourage
flowering in most plants, but for the next year or so I would cut
out all fertiliser in an attempt to restrict growth and encourage
flower bud formation. Good luck. Let us know what happens.
Gardener, Issue 181, 2005, Page 36
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.