JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Camellia Buds are Beginning to Burst

It’s lovely to see so many signs of Spring around the garden and if you look at your Camelias now you can already begin to see the flower buds swelling and some of the early varieties have already begun blooming. Such a superb evergreen shrub and so easy to grow they are a must have in any garden whether it be in the ground or in a pot.

Originating from China and Japan they were discovered in the late 1600’s so have been part of the English Garden for several centuries, their flowers are very unique and showy in every shade of pink, white and red. The Camellia flower also symbolises Love, Affection and Admiration so if you missed Valentines day at the start of the week then it’s the perfect chance to redeem yourself! One of the things I personally admire about Camellias is the time that they flower, their flowers are also very showy, with either elegant single blooms, or a fully double array of petals, and with them flowering at a cooler time of year their blooms can last for several weeks.

Camellias naturally grow in a sunny or partially shaded part of the garden and you don’t just have to grow them in the ground as they also make the perfect pot plant. They do require the soil to be on the acidic side so mix in some ericaceous compost when you plant them to keep them happy. Also feed them annually straight after they flower, pretty much at the same time as you will feed your other plants in the garden, this way they will have the energy as soon as they begin to think about their plans for next year. Also try and avoid planting them in a position where they will get the early morning sun, this is because when it’s frosty it gives the flowers time to thaw out naturally before the sun gets on them, if they catch the morning sun the rays of the sun on the frosted petals will then cause the browning off of the flowers due to the cells exploding with the sudden change in temperature, a slow defrost will keep the flowers in perfect condition.

You can also prune your existing Camelias straight after flowering, and feed at the same time, little and often is the key so even young plants can be trimmed to shape removing any long wispy shoots to help keep them produce buds lower down where you want them for the following year. If you have a large bush which does not flower as much as it used to then it simply comes down to the feeding, large bushes can become quite hungry so a simple feed will lead to them being full of blooms again next year! So if you haven’t got one already it really is time to think about finding a space for one of these delightful shrubs.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

What does ericaceous compost mean?

Most compost is neutral on the pH scale, ericaceous compost is acidic and perfect for mixing in when planting acid loving plants like Rhododendrons and Camellias, There’s also some plants like Acers which acidic soil will enrich their leaf colour. If you don’t use the correct compost for acid loving plants they will still grow but their leaves will become ‘chlorotic’ meaning they will be a pale green and look a bit yellowy and sick, 

My Winter Cyclamen have died?

Winter Cyclamen will only last throughout the Autumn and into the Winter months, they will then die off so treat them like a bedding plant. There are hardy varieties of Cyclamen with C. coum and C. hederifolium, being Spring and Autumn flowering varieties, these are hardy and will come back year on year and gently seed around, forming a carpet in time, perfect for growing under trees in a shaded position, or under a Camellia would make a beautiful Spring display!

What compost would you use for a Camellia in a pot?

They like acidic soil so mix ericaceous compost with John Innes No.3 using a 50/50 mix. This then gives them the acidic pH, combined with the loam structure of the John Innes to help hold moisture and nutrients throughout the year. Then feed in the Spring with Vitax Q4 at the same time as your other plants for strong blooms the following year.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

 

Plant of The Week

Camelia Brushfields Yellow

A beautiful fully double form with ruffled primrose yellow petals backed with pure white petals around the edge. Rich glossy green leaves and very good in habit and form, great for the corner of a garden or back of the border in sun or partial shade