Yellow camellia leaves


Q: My camellia’s leaves turn yellow about this time of year and it has never bloomed since planted four years ago. It is close to the house on the south side, which means it is in shade until well past noon. Is that the problem?

I will assume the camellia in question is not planted too deep, since this can cause leaves to yellow. The yellow is most likely caused by inadequate nitrogen in the soil. This can be corrected by applying an organic mulch around the base of the plant; it should be no more than 5 cm (2 in.) thick and should not touch the main stem (leave at least 10 cm/4 in. clear). Apply the mulch every spring, and in the fall if possible. This will also conserve moisture and decrease the need for weeding. Additional fertilizer can also be used beneath the mulch; use rhododendron fertilizer, applied evenly and watered in. A healthy plant should have good growth; camellias can easily put on 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in.) of growth per season.

Uneven watering late in the summer and fall can also decrease the chances of setting flower buds, and camellias planted under building eaves or near tree canopies may not get enough water even if it rains. The mulch will help conserve moisture, but be sure to water during prolonged dry stretches – at least once or twice a week, water deeply and thoroughly.