Make Camellia Bloom

If you have camellia japonica planted in your landscape, winter can be a frustrating time. Camellias are famous for two things, dark shiny periwinkle and the potential for abundant flowering in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, and all too often, camellias are not up to their full potential.

I am often asked why camellias, which can be loaded with flower buds, never bloom. Most often, these buds simply turn brown and fall off the plant before they bloom. If this happened to your plants, then they can only be cut off from an incorrect placement or variety. Severe winter winds and unfiltered sunlight can dry out plant tissues to harmful levels.

Camellia japonica is known to be a victim of irregular winter weather. The very fluctuating temperatures are really devastating for this species. Picking a newer variety that has been bred to withstand more extreme temperatures will help a lot. However, for the rest of us, many of our plants are several years or longer. They do not tolerate temperatures well below freezing when the plant is full of buds. There are a few simple steps you can take to protect the plants and one step that, although more involved, could be to make sure you remove the flowers from these buds before winter sets in.

First of all, the simplest steps. Make sure that your plants always remain watered. A regular water intake could provide the necessary moisture that your plants need to switch from flower buds to full flowers. However, camellias can not stand poor drainage and wet feet. Make sure your plants are listening well. Then a healthy plant will be more vigorous and better able to withstand extremes. Camellias are not heavy feeders, but occasional additional fertilizing can make all the difference. Covering the plants can provide marginal protection from light frost. But even in this matter, the blanket should be on the top, and not on the flowers, and for optimal protection it must reach the floor and be fixed there. In this way, you will enjoy the warmth of the enclosed floor. A note of caution, if you are covering your plants, make sure you remove them the next morning or they can cause even more damage.

Now for the grand finale. If you really want to give the camellias the best chance to bloom before freezing temperatures, try applying a drop or two of gibberellic acid to each bud. It’s not as bad as it seems. Giberellia is a growth hormone found in small amounts in most plants. This compound has been formulated in an application that is now readily available and safe to use. One or two drops at the base of each bud in autumn (called “jibbing”) can produce full flowers in just a few weeks, long before the browbeat weather conditions. You can learn more about this process, as well as detailed information, by contacting the American Camellia Society.

This year was one of those years in my garden. I do not have time to “jiber” my buds, so I appreciate them for the beautiful persistent puff pastry, which is provided in the cold and severe months of winter, even in the darkest places.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.