Garden log, 5.12.16

Went out in the backyard with the dog this morning intending to pull weeds for 10 minutes. Camellia ‘Midnight Lover’ had a terrible case of leaf hall, so I pruned those out. While I was at it, I struck 12 cuttings of Camellia ‘Nuccio’s Cameo.’ I haven’t had much luck in the past growing camellias from cuttings, but I keep trying.

Louisiana iris ‘Black Gamecock’ is in bloom in the rain garden and looking rather spectacular.

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Sasanqua season

It’s Camellia sasanqua season. Mine have just started to bloom.

Camellia sasanqua 'Chansonette'

These evergreen shrubs, which are hardy in USDA Zones 7-9, are less well known than their spring-blooming counterparts, Camellia japonica. Typically, sasanqua leaves are slightly smaller. They are less prone to many diseases than their japonica brothers and sisters. I’ve only ever seen camellia leaf gall on mine, and that disease is easily controlled by plucking off the swollen leaves. Never compost leaves infected with leaf gall, or the spores may overwinter and spread.

camellia sasanqua 'Chansonette' bud

In the way of care, Camellia sasanquas appreciate light pruning for shape, as they get leggy on their way to 6-10′ high and 5′ wide. Feed with an organic, slow-release fertilizer like cottonseed meal or a fertilizer indicated for azaleas, and mulch with compost a few times a year. They do require acid soil (a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is recommended), and prefer light shade to direct sun exposure.

These lovely shrubs bloom throughout the fall and winter and into very early spring. To my mind, this makes them indispensable. If your winters are relatively mild (lows to 5 F or -15 C), Camellia sasanqua is well worth its space in the garden.

Camellia sasanqua 'Two Marthas'

Garden log, 5.14.13

Aside

New growth on azaleas looked chlorotic; fed lightly with blood meal. Used growing-season strength hort oil on backyard roses, osmanthus, azaleas, gardenias, camellias, viburnum tinus for spider mites. V tinus looking good after treating black spot with neem some weeks ago. Fed seedlings of senna, linum, zizia, fennel, iris tect, alcea, echinacea p. ‘Magnus’ with diluted fish emulsion. Spotted vole in pile of dead leaves–SO tiny! Sunny; high 72.

Camellia leaf gall treatment

Every year, my Camellia sasanquas get leaf gall.

camellia funk

This disease is caused by a fungus, Exobasidium camelliae. Infected leaves become fleshy, thick, and discolored.

camellia petal funk

While disgusting to look at, the misshapen leaves don’t do any serious harm. The disease may be controlled by removing the infected pieces and disposing of them in the trash (not the compost). It’s best to do this as soon as you spot them, before the galls have a chance to fully develop and release their spores.

Moist and humid weather produces favorable conditions for camellia leaf gall to develop. We have certainly met those criteria this spring. I have never seen the disease on my japonicas (the spring bloomers); only on the sasanquas (fall bloomers). Take a look at your camellias and if you spot the problem, don’t reach for a spray. Just nip off the swollen leaves, clean up any that have dropped, and your plants will be happy again.

Camellia mysterium

Last year at a Duke Gardens plant sale, I picked up this Camellia at the $1 table.Camellia don carlari

The tag says it is Camellia ‘Don Carlari.’ I want to know its flower color so I can plant it where it won’t clash with its surroundings. But even all-powerful Google can’t find an image of this plant.

I checked the online encyclopedia at the American Camellia Society, and the closest I could find was ‘Donkelarii.’ I do hope this is what I have. I adore the marbling on the petals.

If you have come across ‘Don Carlari,’ please let me know!