Camellias are stunning evergreen shrubs that are highly prized for their beautiful flowers and colorful hues. To get the best possible display each year, fertilizing your camellias is good practice. This article will explain when and how to fertilize camellia flowers.
The Role of Fertilizer in Plant Health, Growth, and Development
Like all organisms, plants require nutrients to grow and develop new tissues. Plants absorb the majority of their nutrients from the soil through their roots. Fertilizers help replenish the nutrients in the soil, keeping the plant fed throughout the year.
Plants require four main types of nutrients; structural macronutrients, primary macronutrients, secondary macronutrients, and micronutrients.
Carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) are the three structural macronutrients that plants need. By absorbing these nutrients from air and water, plants can produce glucose. This sugar is then used to manufacture cellulose, which is the basic building block of all plant tissue.
The three primary macronutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen produces bushy foliage, while phosphorus is vital for flower production. Potassium helps plants circulate nutrients more efficiently.
Secondary macronutrients perform various other functions and include calcium (Ca), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S).
Types of Fertilizers
Most fertilizers are either organic or synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients, while synthetic fertilizers contain chemicals and salts. Synthetic fertilizers work faster than organic ones but can kill beneficial bacteria in the soil.
All fertilizers have an NPK ratio that shows how much of each primary macronutrient each dose contains. Choosing fertilizers with different NPK ratios has different effects on the growth of a plant. If you want your plant to produce lots of leaves, use fertilizers higher in nitrogen. If you’re focusing on flowers, choose fertilizers that contain more phosphorus.
Which Type of Fertilizer is Best for Camellia Flowers?
Camellias have specific soil requirements that influence which type of fertilizer they need. Camellias need rich, acidic soils with a pH range between 5.0 and 6.5.
Due to their acidic soil requirements, camellias need ericaceous fertilizers and compost. These mediums are designed for acid-loving plants. Use organic ericaceous fertilizer wherever possible. Most fertilizers come in liquid form.
Use ericaceous fertilizers with high nitrogen levels for young camellia shrubs to produce more bushy growth. For established plants, choose a balanced ericaceous fertilizer or one that provides more phosphorus. This promotes more flowers rather than new leaves.
When to Fertilize Camellia Flowers
Camellias are slow-growing shrubs that demand lots of nutrients. As such, camellias are considered to be heavy feeders. That’s why camellias need fertile, acidic soils with lots of initial nutrients.
Fertilize camellia flowers once or twice a year to get the best possible display. All camellias should be fed once they’ve finished flowering. This gives the camellia plenty of nutrients to start producing next year’s buds from newer growth.
If desired, give camellias a second feeding in midsummer. This provides an extra dose of nutrients for the developing buds. Early-season camellias flower in the fall, so midsummer is the perfect time for a boost.
Avoid feeding camellia shrubs after midsummer. Camellia buds are delicate, and over-fertilizing can damage them, as well as cause yellow or curling leaves. If you feed your camellia too late in the year, these flower buds might start dropping off.
How to Fertilize Camellia Flowers
Here’s a quick guide on how to fertilize camellia flowers:
- After flowering has finished in the spring, remove all the spent blooms.
- Scrape away any mulch around the base of your camellia and lightly water the soil.
- Apply a dose of ericaceous fertilizer to the soil. Make sure to dilute the dose according to the packet instructions.
- Water the soil again thoroughly to help it absorb the nutrients.
- Repeat this in midsummer if desired.
Fertilizing Camellias FAQs:
What is the Best Time to Fertilize Camellias?
The best time to feed camellias is after they finish flowering in the spring. Fertilizing helps your camellia begin developing new buds.
Do You Feed Camellias When They are Flowering?
Don’t feed camellias while they’re in flower. This can damage unopened buds and cause them to drop off.
How Often Should You Feed Camellias?
Feed camellias once or twice a year, usually after flowering has finished. You can feed camellias again no later than midsummer.
Fertilize camellias once a year after they finish flowering in the spring. You can apply a second dose in midsummer for an extra boost. Use ericaceous fertilizers designed for plants that need acidic soils.
For more, see our in-depth guide on the meaning and symbolism of camellias and discover our favorite types of red, white, and pink camellia flowers.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.
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