Camellias, like other flowering shrubs and trees, are the object of special attention of a huge number of homeowners. This is because these plants have wonderful flowers and make the yard more beautiful and unique. But it’s not always possible to guess the location and often the need for replanting arises. For the camellia, transplanting is quite a painful process (as it is for most plants). The result of the move is often transplant shock.
To camellia does not get transplant shock you need to save the maximum number of roots, shade it for 1-2 months, and water moderately but often so that the soil does not dry out. Also, avoid transplant camellia in the summer.
The roots must remain intact
The key to transplanting a camellia is to keep the root ball intact. Damaged roots are the primary cause of transplant shock.
I know that sometimes it is not easy to dig out the tree without damaging the roots, but you have to try. The more roots the plant has left, the livelier it will be.
When you dig out, step at least 2 feet away from the trunk. If the plant is large, set back at least 3 feet and get help from another person.
The depth you have to dig can vary from 2 to 3 feet or more. You will most likely damage some of the lower roots. But try to keep the root ball at least 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep.
The shovel should be sharp to go into the ground easily. The soil on the roots should also be left untouched. This is actually another problem, many gardeners shake the soil off the roots and even soak in water. I assure you that this is a useless action, you will get nothing but root rot.
In the soil near the roots live beneficial fungi that form a symbiosis with the plant. By breaking this symbiosis you risk losing the plant. So keep the root ball and soil intact as much as possible.
Lastly, plant the camellia in its new location as quickly as possible. Don’t let the roots dry out. If you delay the transplanting a bit (no more than 2-3 hours), moisten the root ball slightly with water.
Don’t transplant in summer
The time of transplanting is the second important condition for avoiding transplant shock. The result will be different at different times of the year.
Spring is the best time to move the camellia to a new spot. The plant must remain dormant. At this time, the sun is not very harsh and the plant has not yet opened its leaves.
When the plant wakes up in the new location, it will be easier for it to adapt to the new conditions. The camellia will spend more energy renewing its root system instead of growing a lot of new leaves and branches.
If you transplant in late spring or summer, the damaged roots will not provide enough water but the evaporation area will remain the same. As a result, all or part of the leaves will droop.
It is especially dangerous to transplant shrubs and trees in the summer heat. Doing so is a great risk.
But if you still have to transplant a camellia at the wrong time, I will tell you what you can do to make it easier to root.
Provide more shade
If you transplant a camellia when it has already unfolded its leaves, I recommend that you don’t wait for the symptoms of transplant shock and give it as much shade as possible.
The sun forces the leaves to evaporate moisture, and if the roots can not cope with the delivery of water, the leaves will wilt. They may become hard again at night but will droop the next day.
To prevent this from happening, you need to shade the camellia. If it is not very tall, place a garden umbrella over it. Or make a sturdy frame and cover it with mesh such as is used in nurseries. You can easily buy one online.
You can also do something original. It is important to filter at least half of the sun’s rays. But it should not be a total shade, ie scattered or reflected sun must fall on the plant.
The amount of time you need to shade depends on how much of a shock the plant gets. I recommend keeping the shade for at least a month. Then take it off for 1 day and if the leaves don’t droop, you don’t have to put it back on. But if the plant reacts negatively, then shade it back.
In the most severe cases, keep the shade until the end of the season and remove it only when the camellia has shed its leaves.
Water the camellia regularly
Watering is very important when transplanting a camellia. But don’t assume that the more water you give the plant, the less of a transplant shock it will be. This is a very common misconception. If you water too often, you will get nothing but root problems.
I recommend watering the camellia immediately after planting once, the amount of water should be 1-2 gallons. After a few hours do another watering. The second time, the amount of water should be enough to soak the soil around it, but it should not be a bog. Water in small increments to achieve such a result.
Then for the first year after transplanting, check the soil around the plant for moisture and if the surface is more than an inch dry, it’s time to water.
In the summer the soil will dry out very quickly and you may have to water every other day. In the fall, it’s usually quite wet and you should water on average once a week.
In winter, you don’t need to water at all. The exception to this would be a very dry and warm winter. But then the amount of water should be no more than 1 gallon or less, depending on the size of the camellia.
Remove all flowers
If your camellia has already bloomed by the time you move it, you should remove all the flowers from it. The fact is that flowering weakens the plant very much and by removing the flowers you will ease the transplant shock.
Besides, after transplanting, the camellia will not have enough energy to form normal seeds. The only disadvantage of such action will be the lack of beautiful flowers in the current year.
There should not be much work to remove because the camellia has large flowers and not as many as the Cherry Blossom, for example.
Remove the flowers carefully so as not to damage other parts of the plant. The best way to do this is to cut the stem no more than 1 inch from the flower with a sharp pruner.
Pruning after transplanting is quite controversial. Many people recommend pruning the camellia to reduce the number of leaves and, as a result, to reduce moisture evaporation. This is supposed to help the plant to survive the transplanting shock.
But I don’t recommend trimming a camellia after moving it to another location. Yes, pruning will reduce the evaporation area, but it will put a lot of stress on the plant. The transplant shock and stress of pruning greatly increases the risk of losing the plant.
Besides, the leaves stimulate root development. All plants develop branches and leaves at the beginning of the season and then roots in proportion to the above-ground part of the plant.
By pruning the camellia, you reduce the stimulation of root development.
Use root stimulators
The use of root stimulators can give very good results during plant establishment.
Root stimulators are products that contain auxins. Auxins are substances that stimulate the intensive development of plant tissues. In nature, many plants produce their own auxins for growth.
Man has learned to synthesize and use auxins. There are many good root stimulators available online that are also called rooting hormones.
In our situation, it is better to use a powdered root stimulator. Pour it into the planting hole and powder the root ball. Then you have to use a water-soluble rooting hormone. Water the camellia with the rooting solution several times a week apart.
I often use rooting hormones. Don’t expect them to be a miracle, but they make the plant grow roots much faster.
Mist the foliage
The next thing you can do for your camellia is to moisten the leaves regularly. That way you will create an area of high humidity around it and chances are the leaves will not droop.
In fact, misting the leaves is quite a troublesome process. But if you shade the plant with a net, moisten the net and the leaves completely when you water. As a result, the moisture in the air will hold for a while and this will help the plant to survive the transplant shock better.
You should only moisten the foliage if the weather is dry and hot. It should not be done in cloudy weather. Moisturize the leaves only in the morning when the sun is not yet very strong.
Also, you should only do it for a month after transplanting and no longer. Because prolonged humidification can cause fungal disease on camellia leaves.
Mulching is essential
Camellia mulching has a very good effect. It is especially important for a plant that is not yet rooted.
Mulch has many advantages, the first of which is the conservation of moisture in the soil. As a result, you will have to worry less about watering. Also, the mulch prevents the soil from heating up and weeds from germinating.
I often use compost or pine bark for mulching. I would like to encourage you to use only good quality materials for mulching because otherwise, you can have serious problems with the plant.
A layer of mulch should be at least 1-2 inches thick as a thinner layer will not work properly. At the same time, a layer more than 4 inches thick will make the roots suffer from a lack of oxygen.
Never bury the trunk in the mulch. Otherwise, it will begin to rot and there is a risk of losing the plant. Spread the mulch over an area equal to the width of the camellia branches.
Feed the camellia with phosphorus fertilizer
The last recommendation is that you feed the camellia with phosphorus fertilizer. This is because it is phosphorus that makes the roots grow. So you need to make sure that you give it enough.
You should not use purely phosphate fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer with NPK 10-30-10 is better. That means the fertilizer should have three times more phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. In this way, the plant will have everything it needs for the whole season.
It is also important not to use nitrogen-rich fertilizer because it encourages leaf growth. As a result, the roots will not be able to supply the plant with water.