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I have two large 15' camellias on the east side of my house. They were planted in
1968 and haven't been watered or fertilized for at least 6 years. They bloom profusely
without fail. My question is for the first time I've seen some seed pods forming.
I'm curious as to why the pods are forming on such an old shrub. Why now? Is it a
portent of doom for the mother plant?
Camellias have the potential to set seeds every year. I think part of the reason we
are seeing more this year, is that they bloomed so early, met with no late freezes
and had ample time to set seeds before the heat hit. We often think of camellias as
water needy plants, but I have found that they can be pretty resilient, once they
are well established and in the right spot. Flower buds are set for next year’s blooms
My dwarf gardenias were full of blooms this year but lasted only a couple of weeks.
What can I do to prolong the bloom period?
Different varieties bloom at different rates. I have a Kleim’s Hardy or Daisy gardenia.
It has a simple flower and when it is in bloom, it is a solid mass of white flowers
that all bloom at one time. But it only lasts for about a week. My double standard
gardenia blooms for at least a month with flower buds opening over an extended period.
Some varieties re-bloom such as August Beauty and Jubilation.
I live in Bella Vista, Arkansas and I have a question about my hydrangeas. They were
absolutely huge and loaded with blue flowers this year — I use coffee grounds on all
my acid loving plants and they thrive. This year I had about 60-75 flowers and we
got a big rain. All the flower heads were bowed over. Now I have a lot of bent branches.
I know they set their flower buds on last year’s growth, so if I prune all the bent
branches, I probably won’t have any flowers next year. I would have to cut about two
feet off of each branch to get to straight limbs. Any suggestions on what to do?
Actually, the time to prune hydrangeas is immediately after they bloom. Instead of
just cutting two feet off, try thinning the plants out and remove up to 1/3 of the
limbs at the soil line. Cutting hydrangeas at the tops of the stems will encourage
branching. Each branch on the stalk can produce the large flower heads which can make
them top-heavy and not able to support the blooms. Pruning now will allow the plant
to recover and you should still have flower buds set this fall for a bloom for next
summer. Hard, cold winters often take a toll in the NW part of our state, but our
lack of winter this year has given us quite the hydrangea show this year.
I have seen so many pretty camellias in bloom in the state and would like some for
my garden in Independence County. Am I too far north for them to survive? If not,
what variety do you recommend?
You are too far north for the Camellia japonica to do well, but there are several
selections of hybrid Camellia’s which have crosses between C. sasanqua and C. oleifera
that can go as far north as Fayetteville. Polar Ice, Winter’s Rose, and Winter’s Charm
are just three that have been released. They will bloom nicely every year in late
fall through early winter.
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