Camelia problem

Asked July 18, 2020, 11:28 PM EDT

We bought this camelia several months ago when it was blooming. After bringing it home, most of the buds fell off, while new ones continued to grow. Those rarely bloomed however, and mostly fell off as well. We were previously told we had it in too large of a pot. So we put it in a smaller pot, as seen in the picture, but recently the leaves have started yellowing and falling off. New leaves are growing at the end of many of the branches however. Can you provide some insight on just what we're doing wrong? We have another camelia in a separate pot just a few feet away that's done exceptionally well for the last several years, so we can't figure out what's causing the problems with this one. Thanks.

Clackamas County Oregon

2 Responses

Your new camellia is showing the effects of transplanting. It's called transplant shock. Most of the leaves on your new camellia are dark green and normal, but you have lost some and a few are discolored. Anytime you transplant a plant, the plant has to adjust to its new location with the new conditions. Growing new roots is the key to successful transplantation. Until new roots have developed, they cannot deliver enough water to the leaves, especially in hot weather. Help the plant's roots by making sure there is always enough water available in the soil. The transplantation adjustment process takes a couple of years. To support your camellia during this time, especially in a pot with limited soil it's very important to keep the plant well watered. In dry weather that can mean every day or even twice a day in excessive heat. There are new leaves coming on your plant, so with some extra attention, keeping the moisture level good, your plant should adjust well and you will have another beautiful camellia. It may not bloom next year, as it recovers, but should bloom in a couple of years. This information from the American Camellia Society, Container Grown Camellias has additional information on growing camellias in containers, including pot size, fertilization schedule, potting soil, etc.

Dr. Jay Pscheidt, Plant Pathologist at OSU looked at the discolored leaves, but it's difficult to say what the cause is right now. He agrees that the plant is showing effects of transplantation. It's very common. If you see more leaves like these as your tree develops, send us pictures and we can help you identify the cause.

Anne, thanks so much for the detailed reply. I thought that it would be past the period for transplant shock, now that we've had it several months. I had no idea that the transplant period could last years.