If you’re like most gardeners, you’ve planted camellias with the intention of enjoying their beautiful blooms. However, you may find that even though your plant is producing flower buds, these buds aren’t opening. In this guide, I’ll share my experience of seven common reasons your camellia flower buds are not opening and the best solutions to address the problem.
7 Reasons Why Your Camellia Flower Buds May Not Be Opening
While it would be nice if we could point you to one cause of unopened flower buds, there are many reasons why your flower buds may not open. Look at your camellia plant and its environment to determine if any of the following apply.
1) Inconsistent Watering
One of the most common reasons why your camellia flower buds aren’t opening is inconsistent soil moisture. And the most common reason this happens is irregular watering!
You should aim to keep the soil moist but not wet. A good way to determine whether or not you need to water your plant is to stick your finger into the top two inches of soil.
If it’s wet, wait to water. And if it’s dry, you can go ahead and water.
When you water camellias, it’s best to thoroughly soak the soil to reach the plant’s deeper roots. Then, wait until the soil has dried a bit before watering again.
Remember that the weather can impact how often you need to water. While rain will obviously decrease the amount you should water, so will cooler temperatures, low winds, and high humidity.
2) Poorly Draining Soil
While camellia plants like consistently moist soil, they hate being wet. Overwatering is one cause of wet soil, but the more common reason is poorly draining soil.
Soils high in clay or compacted are the most likely to experience poor drainage. That’s because the tiny clay particles stick closely together, creating small pockets for water to drain through.
If the soil becomes compacted by heavy machinery or even human footsteps, these air pockets shrink, creating even poorer drainage.
One way to remedy poorly draining soils is to loosen the soil with a digging fork. To do this, insert the tines of the fork fully into the ground, gently pull back until the soil cracks, and then remove the tines from the ground.
You can also mix in aged compost or sand into the soil to improve drainage.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best types of soil for camellias.
3) Too Much Sun
Most types of camellia plants prefer dappled sun or partial shade. Too much sunlight, especially the bright afternoon sun, can stress camellia plants.
When plants become stressed, they may drop their flower buds before they bloom.
The best time to choose a suitable location for your camellia is before you plant it. Try to choose a spot that is partially shaded by larger plants or only receives morning sun (camellia’s will also struggle in full shade).
If you find that your plant camellia is getting too much sun after you plant it, you can plant a larger plant or install a lattice panel on the western side of the plant.
4) Immature Plants
It’s also common for the plants to produce flower buds, but not open flowers, during the first year they flower.
If you think this is the reason why your camellia isn’t flowering, the solution is easy. Just give the plant some more time!
5) Improper Pruning
Pruning at the wrong time or incorrect pruning techniques can disrupt the blooming cycle of camellias and result in unopened buds.
It’s important to prune camellias immediately after they finish blooming or during their dormant period.
While camellias bloom in the winter or early spring, the plants aren’t necessarily immune to damage from cold temperatures.
A warm period can cause the plants to begin forming flower buds. However, a freeze can zap the buds and prevent them from opening into flowers.
If your plant is covered in flower buds and you’re expecting a harsh freeze, you can try to protect it by covering it with frost cloth. Just make sure to remove the cloth once temperatures rise above freezing.
For more, see our in-depth guide to camellia plant care in winter.
7) Nutrient Deficiencies
Camellias need specific nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, to thrive. A lack of these nutrients can hinder bud development.
Regularly fertilizing camellia plants with a balanced camellia fertilizer can help prevent nutrient deficiencies linked to flower buds not opening.
Camellia Flower Buds Not Opening FAQs:
How Long Does It Take Camellia Plants to Flower?
Most camellia plants will begin to produce flowers when they are three to five years old.
How Do I Get My Camellia Flower Buds to Open?
Ensure the plant is old enough to flower. Next, ensure the plant is planted in well-draining soil, receives consistent moisture, and is planted in partial shade.
Can You Make Camellias Bloom Earlier?
Applying gibberellic acid to camellia flower buds may encourage them to bloom earlier.
If your camellia flower buds aren’t opening, a poor environment, the plant’s age, and improper climate could be to blame.