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By Rachelf

London, United Kingdom Gb


We moved our camellia from the back garden into a large pot about 3 months ago, it seemed to be doing really well with lots of flower buds growing then over the past two weeks the leaves have started to curl and go brown. I'm afraid it is dying. I water it every week if it looks dry and it is planted in acidic soil with a powdered camellia feed.
Please help, any advice would be great thank you.




That plant looks to be relatively mature - how long had it been in the ground when you dug it up? Did you manage to extract all the roots, without breaking any, when you did?

On the assumption it was in the ground for longer than 2/3 years, without careful extraction, it will have been significantly damaged by the excavation. I realise you may have had no choice but to move it at this time of year for some reason, but it wasn't the best time to attempt this, preparations to move it should have been made in Autumn. Even then, if the shrub had been in position for longer than 3 or 4 years, successfully moving it would still have been a risky business.

As the roots have been severely compromised, the topgrowth is dieing back - all you can do now is cut the topgrowth back by two thirds all over, reducing it down to about 8/10 inches, keep it well watered and keep your fingers crossed. This will give it the best chance of a possible recovery.

18 Apr, 2015


Thank you.
It was in the ground when we moved in 4 years ago.
We dug a massive hole around the root ball but were very surprised to see the roots did not go far at all. It seemed to be a very tight root ball.

We checked some sites and it said Jan / Feb was the right time so we waited until then to move it.

Thank you very much for your help.

18 Apr, 2015


The other possible explanation is, it was left to dry out too much, but only you know that! The pot it's in doesn't look large enough, but if you cut it all back, leave it in the same pot for now.

18 Apr, 2015


I didn't want to over water it but I have watered it every week. If it has got too dry do you think it will come back?

In the afternoon the sun has been shining on it. As the weather has been cold in the morning but significantly warmer in the afternoon do you think that may cause issues?

if it does survive do you think it would be better to move it back into the ground in the autumn?

Thank you

18 Apr, 2015


Sorry to say but your only (very) slim chance of saving it is to cut it hard back now. Get it into ericaceous compost and give it a dose of slow release camellia/rhododendron fertiliser in a couple of months' time.

That pot is ok while you're trying to resuscitate it but if you intend to keep it in a pot, it needs to be a good heavy one that won't blow over in the first breeze and it needs to be on pot feet or bricks so that there is no risk of it standing in water.

Can't help thinking that if you managed to get the rootball into that pot, you chopped through all the fine roots that actually do the drinking.

18 Apr, 2015


Thank you for your help.
I have cut the bush back and have everything crossed.

20 Apr, 2015


Rachelf: yes, if it survives, then replant in the ground, once its fully recovered and growing well.

Regarding watering - assuming there's a hole or three in the bottom of the pot to allow good drainage, its impossible to overwater, so give it plenty while its recovering. If there aren't any holes, then you need to make some... but don't leave the pot standing in an outer tray or similar which retains water, or at least, if you do, empty the tray an hour after watering.

As for cold/heat, don't worry about it, but it would be better to keep the plant out of hot sun, particularly between the hours of 11-3.

20 Apr, 2015

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