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Potted Camellia


By Alanb

Cheshire, United Kingdom Gb

Dear Sir/Madam,

Now added a new first photo of the Camellia in the ground. Looking quite promising!

I wonder if I could have some expert advice please.

Eight years ago my Mother managed to "layer" a Camellia for me, off her original shrub. The original shrub was magnificent, with hundreds of blooms on it each year.

(Refer photo : Removed original Camellia 1)

I looked after my shrub, fed and watered it regularly, it was starting to look fabulous, in its pot.

(Refer photo : Camellia 2)

I took some advice from a friend and put stones on top of the pot, to reduce evaporation of water from the soil surface. Unfortunately, I was unable to feel the soil surface and overwatered it, ALMOST killing it.

I re-potted it and after several years of looking after it, it now has ONLY one very healthy side stem on it.

(Refer photo : Camellia 3).

My Mother passed away 4 years ago so this is a very precious "living memory" of her.

My Question:

If I dig a long deep trench in the ground and lay the Camellia on its side, so that the one side shoot, essentially becomes a main vertical shoot, would the main stem (which would now be under ground), generate more root stock and result in a healthy plant?

My worry is, by doing this that the main stem rots and I would lose the plant completely.

Hoping you can help, thank you for any advice that you can offer.

Regards and best wishes, Alanb

Image Camellia_2 Camellia_3



There's an old adage - if it ain't broke, don't fix it! But it looks as if taking your friend's advice, although it caused a major setback, hasn't actually killed the shrub - rather it hasn't enough root room. What you suggest is a risk, and one I'm not sure I'd be prepared to take if the shrub has such personal memories. Frankly, the best solution would be to put the plant in the ground and look after it there - it would then have a chance to spread its roots and get much larger, which isn't something it can do in a pot that size. It also sounds as if its been in a pot for years, so its not suprising its only got one growing stem. If you can get more topgrowth, you might then stand a chance of being able to layer one of the new stems.

If your soil isn't suitable or you don't have space, then try a much larger pot, but the best thing would be to put in the ground.

4 Apr, 2014


I agree with Bamboo - that pot's all wrong. If you can't plant it in the ground then get a nice big terracotta pot with space for the roots, and a bag of ericaceous compost. It will spend a while putting on root growth to start off with but top growth should follow.

In a terracotta pot you shouldn't need to water it except in very dry spells as the pot will absorb moisture from the atmosphere. Terracotta will also show it off much more once it does decide to grow. Camellia can be a bit sulky though so don't worry if it doesn't appear to be flourishing immediately after re-potting.

4 Apr, 2014


Bamboo, Jent and Urbanite, thanks for your helfpful comments. I have added a third photo showing how healthy the layered camellia was before I overwatered it.

Regards, Alan

6 Apr, 2014


Well I obviously didn't read your original post quite correctly - I've now picked up that you think you 'over watered' it. Unless there's no holes in the bottom of that pot, that isn't possible - any excess would simply have drained away. Because of that, I misread and assumed you'd UNDER watered. If there are holes in that pot, then there's quite another reason for why it died back which at this point is hard to ascertain; unless, of course, you had it standing in a tray in which the water was left to sit.

I still recommend turning it out of its pot to see if its potbound or if there is some problem with the roots, like invaders of some kind, and then potting on into something larger with fresh ericaceous compost, ensuring that the drainage holes in the pot are not blocked.

6 Apr, 2014


I've added this question to GoYpedia shade container plants.

7 Apr, 2014


Thank you Terra, I appreciate that .... Alan.

7 Apr, 2014


Alan you already have a lot of good advice my only comment relates to growing Camellias in Terracotta pots. Glazed Terracotta possibly, ordinary terracotta would require watering daily where I live and frost would probably break them anyway.
I have many in pots (plastic) and in open ground when the pots become large enough that I can no longer lift them I plant them out, if they become pot bound flowering becomes sparse.

29 Apr, 2014


Hi Brian, I took an executive decision following, the advice and put it in the ground, I know it's early days yet, but it seems to be fine, time will tell. Thanks for your input though. Alan

29 Apr, 2014


Alan mine was like yours, I planted out at this stage, they say just cover base a little they like a bit of warmth. See mine in my pictures.

19 May, 2014


W1nk, Thanks for your comment. I will take a look at your photos. I assume by covering the base, you mean the surface of the soil, around the stem and above the roots. What did you use to provide the warmth, grass cuttings?

20 May, 2014


Hi Alanb

Little bark, I did cut it down a little from the base as part of my project, it looks more like a tree now instead of a bush. It is part of phase seven.whats hurts me is it's so big when I prune, some of the stems are bigger than most plants, well I suppose you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes.

20 May, 2014


Thanks W1nk.

21 May, 2014


I am pleased to report, nine months after asking this question, that the camellia has been planted in the gound since August. It looks extremely healthy and has more than 20 flower buds on it. A photo has been included. Photo 1, which replaces the original 'Camellia 1 photo'.

9 Jan, 2015


Congratulations - and thanks for the update. Looks like you'll have a long-lasting memory of your mother and you can add the satisfaction of having rejuvenated the plant.

10 Jan, 2015


Thank you Urbanite. I am delighted with the result, it looks extremely healthy. I will protect it for the first winter when we get frosty spells, just to get it settled in. After that, apart from a feed and watering when needed, it should be fine.

10 Jan, 2015


Treat it to a dose of Miracle Gro Continuous Release Granular Ericaceous Plant Feed after flowering or try Camellia Focus Liquid ( - watch out for the fairly hefty £6 postage charge though) - the liquid will need more than one dose but will give a good quick shot.

11 Jan, 2015


Hi Urbanite, thank you for the advice.

11 Jan, 2015

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