Growing Habieir Camellia Bush

Variety: Camellia japonica
Family: Theaceae
Cultivar: Habieir
Zones: 7 to 9
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Soil Type: Sandy loam to clay loam
Soil pH: 4.5 to 6.5
Sunlight: Partial shade to partial sun
Watering: Normal to moist
Fertilizer: Flowering shrub and tree fertilizer
Availability: Sold as live, potted plants.

When to plant: Plant Habieir Camellia at any time during the growing season when there is no danger of frost.

Planting Method
CONTAINER: Dig a planting hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Center in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The water ring will help divert water to the outside roots and will encourage proper root growth and nourishment. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

BALLED AND BURLAPED: Dig a planting hole three times the size of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Scarify the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork or shovel. If the burlap is synthetic, remove and discard it, as synthetic burlap does not decompose. Center the camellia in the planting hole. Remove any staples or ties holding organic burlap on the plant. Fold the top of the burlap down far enough into the planting hole so that it is completely covered when you backfill. Backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The water ring will help divert water to the outside roots and will encourage proper root growth and nourishment. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

BARE ROOT: Soak the roots for at least eight hours to ensure proper hydration. Dig a planting hole as wide as the spread-out roots and as deep as the discoloration on the trunk. The discoloration shows how deep the camellia was previously planted. Center in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The water ring will help divert water to the outside roots and will encourage proper root growth and nourishment. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

Watering
Water with at least an inch of water per week. The soil should be kept moist to a depth of 18 inches. Water again when the top few inches of soil dries out.

Fertilizing
Fertilize with shrub and tree fertilizer in the spring before new growth. If a soil test shows low or missing nutrients, use a nutrient-specific fertilizer instead of an all-purpose fertilizer.

Production
Habieir Camellia is a high-maintenance evergreen that produces dark-green foliage and showy flowers in shades of pink and white. These camellia bushes grow to a height of 12 feet and up to 10 feet wide if they're not pruned.

Diseases

  • Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungus that usually affects plants that have low air circulation and inadequate light. It is a bigger problem in the early spring and fall months, when the temperatures swing from high during the day to low at night, especially in zones with a lot of humidity. Powdery mildew forms a white or gray coating on the top of the leaves, making them turn yellow, curl up and drop off. It also causes stunted fruit that drops early. To control powdery mildew, decrease watering, use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and keep water off the foliage. Apply fungicides as directed.
  • Pythium and Phytophtora Root Rot: Pythium and phytophtora root rot attack a plant if there are fungal spores in the soil and the plant is overwatered, creating a high moisture level. Roots turn black and break. Leaves yellow and fall off, usually from the bottom up. Contaminated water or soil mix is the usual cause of root rot. To control this disease, remove infected plants, make sure the soil is well-drained and do not overwater or overfertilize plants. There is no chemical treatment for root rot.
  • Rusts: Rusts generally overwinter on plant foliage and spent flowers. They are host-specific and usually appear as small, yellow or bright-orange pustules under the leaves. Sometimes the pustules can be brown. Other fungi and splashing water causes most rust problems. Rust tends to worsen when the weather gets moist. To control rust problems, water the plant from the base, keeping the foliage dry. Make sure the plants have enough air flow to all leaves by thinning and pruning. Water only during the day, giving plants a chance to dry before nightfall. Rusts can also be controlled with a fungicide.
  • Southern Blight: Southern blight is a fungus that leaves lesions on the stem of a plant. The lesions can usually be found near the soil line. The lesions cause the plant to suddenly wilt. This fungus likes temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be controlled with a fungicide.

Pests

  • Aphids: The aphid is a small insect that forms clusters on seedlings and new plant growth. It's pear-shaped body ranges from 1/16- to 3/8-inch long. Aphids spread quickly, feeding on plant juices, which weakens the plant. Signs of infection include honeydew and sooty mold on plants, curling leaves, stunted growth and yellowing of foliage. Remove infected plant matter and keep the garden weed-free. Do not use high-nitrogen fertilizer, as this promotes aphids. If you have a light infestation, you can spray the aphids off the plant with water, then apply insecticidal soaps or pesticides. Aphids will develop a resistance to pesticides, so use them sparingly and as a last resort. If you do not wish to use insecticides or pesticides, you can introduce natural enemies of the aphid, such as lacewings, parasitic wasps or pirate bugs.
  • Caterpillars: Caterpillars are heavy feeders and can be quite destructive. They are the immature forms of butterflies and moths. Control caterpillars by removing all weeds around the area and introducing parasitic wasps. Certain insecticidal soaps and oils will kill caterpillars.
  • Scale Insects: The 1/8-inch-long scale insect attaches itself to the leaves and stems of plants. While the males have wings, the females do not, and spend their lives attached to the plant, sucking out juices with their piercing mouth parts. The scale insect excretes honeydew, which causes sooty mold that attracts ants. Cut any infected leaves off the plants. If the stems are also infected, you may have to dispose of the entire plant. You may be able to control them with insecticidal soaps or pesticides. You can also introduce parasitic wasps to your garden, as they are the scale insect's natural enemies. Lady beetles are also natural enemies.
  • Thrips: Out of the 6,000-plus species of thrips, there are five that like to visit garden plants. These narrow-bodied insects are about 1/8-inch long and have a life span of about 45 days. They are commonly found eating foliage, including the stems of plants. They do not like cooler temperatures and will invade a warm greenhouse.  Keep plants well-weeded and use sticky strips to trap thrips. Some pesticides may work, though some only kill the larvae, not adult insects. Natural enemies include lacewings, ladybeetles and pirate bugs.

Cleanup
Prune Habieir Camellia in the spring and throughout the growing season for dead and decaying plant matter. If the branches become too thick and the plant starts to crowd itself, cut a few branches off at the trunk. Pinch the stem tips to encourage foliage growth and a bushier plant.

Saving Seeds
Propagate via stem cuttings. Dip a six-inch stem cutting into rooting powder and plant in amended soil. Water well. 

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