Let it Grow: Cures for what ails us and our camellias

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What&8217;s ailing your camellias might be easy to fix; then again, perhaps not.

I&8217;m a firm believer in the old mantra created by the legendary comedian, George Carlin. &8220;Behind every silver lining, there&8217;s a dark cloud.&8221; I guess that makes me an &8216;optimistic pessimist.&8217; I look forward to the worst, therefore allowing me to be prepared for a quick bite on the backside.

Some of the problems you may encounter with your camellias are listed below:

– Flower blights: This problem is usually caused by the fungus Ciborinia camelliae and only infects the flower tissue. It doesn&8217;t usually spread from flower to flower. This looks like brown spots on the flowers and causes them to fall prematurely from the shrub. The fungus can live in the fallen bloom and return. To control this problem, remove and destroy all blooms from beneath, as well as, still attached to the plant. Keep mulch fresh from season to season; don&8217;t over mulch and for more information, consult your county extension agent.

– Root rot: Phytophthora root rot is the most damaging disease of many container and field-grown camellias because it prevents the plants from taking up the necessary water and nutrients the plants need to thrive. Root rot caused by Phytophthora can be treated with drenches. You must know the species of camellia before you choose the necessary treatment. Consult your extension agent.

– Camellia dieback and Leaf gall are other diseases caused by viruses and again, I recommend you positively ID your specific problem before treating a guess. Call your extension agent first.

– One of the biggest problems we face in this country right now, with camellias is known as Phytophthora ramorum. This pathogen is otherwise known as &8220;Sudden Oak Death.&8221; I strongly recommend that you read everything you can find on this threat beginning with the following website: www.aphis.usda.gov.

Search: Sudden Oak Death.

In the meantime, go plant some camellias. Buy them from reputable nurseries and ask your certified nurseryman if the camellias are grown in Alabama. We&8217;ll have more on camellias next week