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10 Tips To Reduce Camellia Transplant Shock

Many homeowners give special attention to camellias and other flowering plants. However, finding the right spot isn’t always easy, and sometimes you have to move them. For camellias, moving can be stressful, and they might suffer from transplant shock.

To prevent transplant shock in your camellia, try to keep as many roots intact as possible, provide shade for 1-2 months, and water it regularly to ensure the soil does not dry out more than an inch.

How to reduce Camellia Transplant Shock?

How to reduce Camellia Transplant Shock?

1. Keep the Roots Intact

It’s crucial to keep the camellia’s root ball undamaged during transplant. Root damage often leads to transplant shock.

When digging up the camellia, start about 2 feet from the trunk. The depth of digging might range from 2 to 3 feet or even more. Although some lower roots might get hurt, aim to preserve a root ball that’s around 2 feet wide and deep.

Use a sharp shovel for easier digging. Also, leave the soil around the roots as it is. This soil contains helpful fungi that have a symbiotic relationship with the plant. Disturbing this can harm the plant, so try to keep the root ball and surrounding soil as intact as you can.

After digging, replant the camellia in its new spot promptly.

2. Avoid Transplanting in Summer

Timing is crucial for avoiding transplant shock. Spring is the ideal season for relocating camellias. During this period, the plant is dormant, with milder sunlight and no new leaf growth yet.

Transplanting while the plant is dormant allows it to adapt more easily to its new environment. In spring, the camellia focuses its energy on rebuilding its root system rather than producing new leaves and branches.

Transplanting shrubs and trees during the hot summer months is particularly risky and should be avoided due to the high chance of stress and damage to the plant.

3. Increase Shade

If you’ve transplanted a camellia that’s already leafed out, don’t wait for signs of transplant shock. Instead, provide plenty of shade right away.

Sunlight makes leaves lose moisture, and if the roots can’t supply enough water, the leaves will wilt. To prevent this, shade the camellia. You can use a garden umbrella or create a frame covered with a shading net.

It’s best to maintain this shade for at least a month. After that, remove the shade for a day. If the leaves remain perky and don’t droop, you won’t need to replace the shade.

4. Regularly Water the Camellia

Proper watering is key when transplanting a camellia. Right after moving it, water the plant with 1-2 gallons.

For the first year post-transplant, monitor the soil’s moisture level around the camellia. If the top inch of soil becomes dry, it’s time to water again.

During summer, the soil dries out faster, so you’ll likely need to water more frequently. Conversely, in the fall, when conditions are generally wetter, reduce the watering frequency.

5. Remove All Flowers

If your camellia is in bloom at the time of transplanting, it’s best to remove all flowers. Flowering can significantly strain the plant, and by removing the blooms, you help reduce transplant shock.

The main downside is that you won’t have the beauty of the flowers for that year.

Thankfully, this task isn’t too labor-intensive, as camellias have fewer large flowers compared to, say, a Cherry Blossom.

Carefully remove the flowers to avoid harming other parts of the plant. The most effective method is to snip the stem about 1 inch below the flower using sharp pruning shears.

6. Refrain from Pruning

It’s best not to prune a camellia immediately after relocating it. While pruning might reduce the area of moisture loss, it can also stress the plant significantly. Combining transplant shock with the stress from pruning can substantially increase the risk of the plant not surviving.

Moreover, leaves are vital for root development. Plants typically grow branches and leaves early in the season and then develop roots in proportion to their above-ground growth. Pruning disrupts this natural balance, which can be detrimental, especially after transplanting.

7. Apply Root Stimulators

Using root stimulators can be highly beneficial for a plant’s establishment. These products contain auxins, which are compounds that encourage vigorous tissue development in plants.

Opt for a powdered root stimulator. Apply it directly into the planting hole and lightly coat the root ball with it. After this, switch to a water-soluble rooting hormone. Water the camellia several times with this rooting solution, a week apart. This practice can significantly aid in the plant’s root development and overall health.

8. Mist the Foliage

Regularly misting your camellia’s leaves can be beneficial. This creates a high humidity environment around the plant, reducing the likelihood of leaf droop.

Misting can be a bit of a task, but if you’re using a shading net, simply moisten the net and the leaves thoroughly during watering. This helps maintain moisture in the air around the plant, aiding in recovery from transplant shock.

However, only mist the foliage in dry and hot conditions, not during cloudy weather. It’s best to do this in the morning when the sun isn’t too strong.

Limit this practice to the first week after transplanting. Extending it beyond that might increase the risk of fungal diseases on the camellia leaves due to prolonged humidity.

9. Mulch the Root Zone

Mulching offers several benefits, most notably moisture retention in the soil. This means less frequent watering is needed. Additionally, mulch helps keep the soil cool and inhibits weed growth.

I often use compost or pine bark for mulching and recommend using only high-quality materials. Low-quality mulch can lead to significant plant health issues.

A proper mulch layer should be about 1-2 inches thick. A thinner layer won’t be as effective, while a layer thicker than 4 inches could deprive the roots of necessary oxygen.

Be careful not to cover the trunk with mulch, as this can cause it to rot and potentially lead to the loss of the plant..

10. Phosphorus Fertilization

My last piece of advice is to feed your camellia with phosphorus-rich fertilizer, as phosphorus plays a key role in root growth. Ensure your camellia gets an adequate amount.

However, avoid using a purely phosphorus-based fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-30-10 is more suitable. This ratio means the fertilizer contains three times more phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. Using this type of fertilizer ensures that the plant receives all the necessary nutrients for the entire season.