By: Teo Spengler
The beautiful blooms and dark green evergreen foliage of camellia plants win a gardener’s heart. They add color and texture to your backyard all year long. If your camellias outgrow their planting sites, you’ll want to start thinking about transplanting camellias. Read on for information about camellia transplanting, including tips on how to transplant a camellia and when to move a camellia bush.
Camellias (Camellia spp.) are woody shrubs that grow best in warmer regions. They thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. You can buy camellias from your garden store during winter. If you are wondering when to transplant or when to move a camellia bush, winter is the perfect time. The plant may not look dormant, but it is.
Camellia transplanting can be easy or it can be more difficult depending on the age and size of the plant. However, camellias generally don’t have very deep roots, which makes the job easier.
How to transplant a camellia? The first step, if the plant is large, is to do root pruning at least three months before the move. To start transplanting camellias, draw a circle in the soil around each camellia bush that is a little larger than the root ball. Press a sharp spade into the soil around the circle, slicing through roots.
Alternatively, dig a trench in the soil around the plant. When you are done, refill the area with soil until you are ready to transplant.
The next step in camellia transplanting is to prepare a new site for each plant. Camellias grow best in a site with part shade. They need well-draining, rich soil. When you are transplanting camellias, remember that the shrubs prefer acidic soil too.
When you are ready to start, reopen the slices you made around the camellia when you did root pruning and dig them even further down. When you can slip a shovel under the root ball, do so. Then you’ll want to remove the root ball, place it on a tarp, and gently move it to the new site.
If the plant was too small and young to require root pruning before camellia transplanting, just dig around it with a shovel. Remove its root ball and carry it to the new site. Dig a hole in the new site twice as big as the plant’s root ball. Gently lower the root ball of the plant into the hole, keeping the soil level the same as it was in the original planting.
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Last year in August I moved a mature standard camellia japonica (must be at least 10 years old). It was a beautiful tree that flowers magnificently each year. However in its new spot it receives far too much sun and is exposed to direct sun for most of the day in the Summer. And it was really hot on occasions this last summer in Melbourne.
Its leaves turned yellowish and there are dry gray borders on many of them. And the leaves are thinning out. It has set buds for Spring so there seems to be some action still.
I have to move it and replace it with a better screening tree because of troublesome neighbours. Also it obviously doesn't like where it is anyway.
Question is - is it going to like being moved a second time and will the leaves recover? - or do I have to prune it right back and hope it will shoot new, nice green and glossy leaves like it used to have? I will ensure that it is shaded from the heat of the day for most of the day in another location.
If your camelia is in the wrong place for you and also isn't doing too well by the sounds of it, what have you got to lose by moving it again?
Just make sure if you do that it doesn't flower for this season and the next by constantly debudding it. Having blooms takes a lot of energy from the plant. Also make sure you keep the water up to it.
Thanks Deejaus - I guess you're right - nothing to lose really - but it's going to be a hell of a job to move it! So I would really like it to work! Do you think the leaves will "rejuvenate"or do I have to prune drastically in the hope of nice new ones growing?
I would be very wary of pruning the camellia - they take so long to re-grow. And, definitely, don't prune off the top.
Wait another month or two until it's a bit cooler. In the meantime, prepare your new site. Dig in some organic matter and a light sprinkle of blood and bone to compensate for the nitrogen used up by the decomposition of the organic stuff. Keep moist while you are waiting to transplant.
If you need to break up clay, use gypsum, rather than lime.
When the time comes, transplant from damp soil (give the camellia a couple of really good waterings a few days beforehand to make sure the water penetrates) and get as big a root ball as possible. This shouldn't be too difficult - the roots probably haven't extended too far since the last move.
When you are ready replant in the new position, have a few supplies on hand and apply as per directions once you have planted.
1. Seasol - to promote root growth and condition the soil.
2. A product such as Envy or Stressguard - spray it on to protect the camellia from losing moisture through its leaves.
3. Something to prevent root rot, like Phosacid 200.
(On second thoughts, it might not be such a bad idea to apply these products now to help the plant along in preparation for the move.)
If the camellia is tall, top heavy or in a windy spot, stake well, using two or three stakes, to prevent movement and subsequent breakage of new roots.
Mulch well (I use pine needles on my camellias and they seem very happy) and maintain moisture. Cover the camellia with some shade cloth for a a month or so.
Don't fertilise at this stage. Wait until you see some new growth and the plant looks established.
When I moved house some years ago, all my camellias moved with me and settled in very well.
I do hope yours will be happier in its new spot.
Thanks for all that useful advice Wombat - if I dont prune, how do I get my nice deep glossy leaves back?'Will new leaves slowly take the place of the struggling ones? Should I debud? - blast, this will be the second year I have had to sacrifice my flowers.
Camellias grow new leaves anyway, and the old ones fall off. But the memory cells can't dredge up the "when" bit. I think the old ones might last a couple of seasons before they fall off.
But all going well, you should get lots of shiny, new leaves soon. Has it put out new leaf buds yet?
I know you should disbud to allow the shrub to put its energy into new growth and roots. But it is hard, isn't it. Perhaps you could compromise - remove every second bud perhaps. Or third.
Thanks for all the positive thoughts Wombat. You have filled me with hope! I will give it a go, talk to it gently every day, and just hope that it likes it's new spot better than the HOT exposed one it has had to endure all Summer. I must say it is starting to look a bit less harrassed already now that the cooler weather has arrived. (I could be imagining it, but the leaves look a little greener these days). However I know it's not a soil problem as the sasanqua camellias in the same area look just fine. But the lady at the nursery told me that it will not survive in the long term if I dont move it to a more sheltered/shady spot.
Camellias seem to have a reputation for being a bit finicky but, once they are established, they seem to be incredibly hardy.
I have one which came with the house. Previous owners were not gardeners, so it could well have been planted before they bought the house in the early 1960's. The trunk is huge.
This camellia is in full sun, on the northern side of our corner block. We are on top of a hill - extremely stony over a clay base, and very windy. The sort of site which shouldn't appeal to any camellia. It flowers heavily over late winter. Unfortunately, many of the flowers are badly affected by frost but the blooms within the foliage are protected.
It had been pruned to a sort of ball shape, like the other shrubs, which I detest. Other than removing dead wood, I haven't pruned it at all. But it took about 6 or 7 years to grow another leader (but that may have had something to do with the plumber ripping out the side of the trunk to install a new storm water line right next to it). We have been in drought for the past 3 years and the only water it gets is its meagre share of the bath/laundry water but it has produced yet another fine crop of buds.
I have planted or transplanted a number of camellias on the southern and eastern sides of the house and they, too, have coped well with the drought. Ever the optimist, I've recently planted another two - more bucketing - and have planted some seeds.
The products I recommended will help your camellia to physically get over the stress of the move. And keep up the sweet talk to cure the emotional damage.
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
From semi-hardwood cuttings
Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Imperial Beach, California
Sacramento, California(3 reports)
San Diego, California(2 reports)
Pensacola, Florida(2 reports)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana(2 reports)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina(2 reports)
Mount Gilead, North Carolina
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Taylorsville, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
East Port Orchard, Washington
On Feb 9, 2015, 1077011947 from Greer, SC wrote:
I planted April Tryst Camellia in Kentucky about 10 years ago at my mom's and it has grown beautifully it is now maybe 10 feet a tall and blooms prodisciously each and every year. I planted a few other Ackerman Hybrids, I forget which ones, but they all did beautifully.
On Jan 10, 2011, sherizona from Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:
In Phoenix this can be a tricky plant. It looks marvelous in the winter but hot, dry wind is its downfall. I try to bring mine to a very shady, non-windy spot during the summer. Sometimes it just can't take the heat and burns up, other times it barely makes it and rejuvenates in the fall. It's hit or miss, very similar to growing mandevilla out here.
On Mar 1, 2010, purplesun from Krapets,
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:
Bought two of these two years ago, one pink and one red, for 2 euro each and planted them in part shade. Well, it doesn't die in our winters - 2300 feet AMSL, zone 6b - but it isn't a terrific performer either. It loses the odd bud or leaf by the end of the winter, but it does grow after that as if it had been pruned. This, combined with the fact this plant is so slow growing, makes patience a cardinal virtue in this case.
On Jan 30, 2010, mamacooler from Midlothian, VA wrote:
I have grown several different camellias in Midlothian, VA, zone 7. As we have acid soil, they are trouble free and only ask for a little afternoon shade. The blooms are gorgeous and the glossy green foliage is beautiful as an understory plant.
On May 4, 2007, SooBee360 from Hudson, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
Planted our red double about 15 years ago, as an understory beneath deciduous oak trees towards the northwest side of our (acre) yard. Natural mulch from leaves keeps it going, some natural pine needles possibly add to soil ph (acid side). Lovely blooms every Feb-Mar, right on cue. Although, rarely blossoms will get hit by surprise frost/freeze. For me, no bugs, no problems. I do water during droughts. Occasional pruning every other year. Likes the partial shade though.
On Nov 26, 2006, DreamOfSpring from Charleston, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:
In my area (where I believe this plant was 1st imported to the US) camellias are virtually trouble-free and require little care. The biggest problem I've encountered is frost damage to pale colored blooms. I have a number of different varieties for which I do nothing beyond annual pruning for shape. Mine begin blooming in November and continue through late March, early April and bring much appreciated color to the winter garden.
Here (Charleston, SC) they require some shade. Most of mine are on the North side of my house where they receive little or no direct sun, yet they bloom well at times it can be difficult to see the leaves for the flowers. They require an acid soil (usually not a problem here) without which the leaves will turn yellow-green.
They can g. read more row quite tall. I've seen some 10-15ft tall. They can be left to grow as natural, unpruned shrubs or pruned and trained in a number of interesting forms including: standard (tree), espalier, etc.
This past summer one of mine rewarded me with a small crop of crabapple like fruits (1.5"D) that I have since learned may be produced by species varieties and some hybrids. The raccoon "kids" that visit me quickly gobbled them up so I gather they make a good source of food for wildlife.
On Jul 10, 2006, CoreHHI from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:
I love camellia but I have a good natural enviroment for them. They need an acidic soil and shade. I have a couple that start blooming in Nov. and bloom profusely till about Feb. Nice color during the winter, they really stand out and they fill up shady areas that you really can't grow much in. I have one camellia that's about 10 ft tall by 6 ft and I prune it so it stays that size. We're talking about a 7 year old bush so they're fast growing if you have the right conditions.
On Aug 17, 2004, deborahgrand from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:
Our camellia seems to be very hardy despite neglect we've given it over the years. This old trooper just blooms and blooms in the late spring/ early summer.
My grandfather had very good success with airlayering his -- they seemed to come out better than his grafted plants (they always seemed to be hardier).
On Apr 29, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:
This plant seems to be quite pH sensitive, not going well on higher pH. The best plants I have seen were planted on a rich, reddish (acidic) soil.
The beauty of Camellias can only be compared to the Roses.
On Mar 16, 2004, youreit from Knights Landing, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
Early last fall/late summer, we bought and planted our 'Ave Maria' in pretty much full shade on the northern side of a built-up, man-made creek. Not knowing too much about Camellias at the time, we bought the one with the most buds on it. We only used bagged garden soil and mixed it into the clay-like stuff we're stuck with around here. It started sending out new growth almost immediately, the lighter green leaves contrasting beautifully with the thicker, dark green ones. Then out of the blue one winter morning, I noticed some pink across the yard, and we've had continuous formal double blooms since then. There are only 2 left now. I sure will miss her until next year. But the foliage is great, too!
On Sep 22, 2003, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:
I am growing Camellia 'Korean Fire' and 'Winter's Dream' in large containers on my porch. 'Korean Fire' has already survived two winters, blooming in late winter/early spring. Plant in a partly shaded location in good, acid soil sheltered from wind and don't allow the plant to get dessicated if you want to grow Camellias in Reno-Sparks.
We live in Northern Virginia and planted a camelia in April 2002. It bloomed in late March 2003 for the first time, which is what the nursery told us to expect. The blooms were both abundant and mildly fragrant. It did not appear to attract many insects. It has done well getting partial sun. After finishing blooming this spring, the plant put out a number of new growth shoots. It appears to be pretty hearty, even though we had a longer, colder winter than we have had the past few years.
I would be interested to know if anybody has any recommendations on whether or not this shrub should be pruned and if so how to do so.
On Aug 8, 2001, justmeLisa from Brewers, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:
This relatively slow growing native of China & Japan has been a favorite in the Southern states ever since its introduction. Camellia's glossy leaves and vast array of bloom sizes, shapes and colors have made it popular throughout Louisiana. Groupings of these shrubs in full bloom under scattered tall pines makes a lasting impression.
Many pest injure this species, but most can be controlled. Camellias perform best when grown in filtered shade. They are well suited for tub culture as specimen plants a semi-shaded spot on the patio is perfect for a tub specimen.
It is important to keep the roots relatively cool thick mulches are needed year-round.
When I first saw a camellia shrub, I didn't know what it was, and went to a nursery, looking at every plant they had in an attempt to find out what it was. you know, without acting dumb and resorting to "asking" someone. The reason I was so curious about the shrub is that it was absolutely stunning, even with no flowers on it. I immediately started reading everything I could on the plant, especially how to duplicate the gorgeous one that was growing in our yard!
Here's what I discovered:
Camellias are very slow to grow, so the cloning method outlined in this article may not be your cup of tea. You'll want to get a very sharp cutting instrument (I use sharp, sterile clippers, but I guess a knife or scissors would work just fine). Make your cut from new growth only (summertime is best) and the cutting only needs to be about three or four inches long, just below a leaf and a few nodes. (I taper the cut at the bottom in order to give the plant more room from which to root.) Then, cut off all the leaves on the bottom half of the cutting, leaving only a few at the very top.
The reason you take the cuttings from new growth is that they will root much easier, and since this plant is a slow grower anyway, I always feel the need to do whatever I can do to speed things up a bit.
What a beauty this pink camellia is!