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October 24, 2015

QuestionWe bought a camellia sasanqua bush 2 years ago. It had beautiful pink blooms the past two falls. This year it seems to be dying, half the bush seems dead and the other is green with buds forming as it has in the past. What could be wrong? Is it too late to save?


AnswerWith half the bush dying or dead, it doesn’t sound good. When did it begin to die back? If it is setting flower buds on the living side, wait until spring, enjoy the flowers this winter, then prune out the dead and shape what is left and see what happens.   Did you water this summer and fall?  Did anything damage the side that is having problems?  Do you see any signs of scale insects?  You can take a sample of the dying part in to your local county extension office for a diagnosis, but before we know what is causing the problem, we can’t come up with a solution


 November 2014

Question I have two pink camellias that are always loaded with buds but always freeze before they bloom. They are up against the house on the east side. I can never get them to bloom before the fall freeze. Any ideas?


AnswerDo you know if they are sasanqua varieties or japonica varieties?  Sasanquas typically bloom in the fall and early winter, while the larger japonica types bloom in later winter and if they begin to show color, can be damaged by winter cold.  Last winter was really the first time we had any issues in recent years, but the sasanqua types would be hardier for you.  You have them in the best protected location. Covering only gives you a few degrees of protection. 


January 2012

QuestionWinter Color 2012


AnswerSo far this winter has been an improvement over last year, with weather almost too mild at times. But our winter is far from over, so keep your fingers crossed. Typically when we think of garden color, we think spring and summer, but there are a number of plants that can add winter interest and color. From true flowering plants to colorful bark, leaves and berries, there are options for all gardens. Take inventory of your own garden, and if you need color, consider some new additions. Shrubs are the backbone of the landscape. While we do want evergreen shrubs to be the foundation of the landscape, deciduous plants can also add seasonality and rhythm to a garden. While green is of course a color, there are variegated plants and some that take on their own winter hue. Nandina’s can be a nice green addition to the garden during the growing season, but they really shine in the winter landscape with red or burgundy foliage. Standard plants also have a nice berry display. Some folks dislike nandina’s since they can spread by seed into wild areas, but they are a versatile plant, and usually pretty tough. Many female hollies are loaded with berries this year, and the fruit is a nice addition to color. The deciduous hollies are really showing off with berries on full display without being masked by foliage. But there are some plants that actually bloom in the cooler months. There are several species of camellias that are common throughout central and southern Arkansas, and with hardier introductions, now being planted even in the northern tier of the state. Camellia sasanqua’s are in full bloom now, and some of the Camellia japonica’s are beginning to bloom. There are other hybrids available as well. These plants do best in full morning sun, and afternoon shade. They like acidic soil conditions and even moisture in the summer—not tolerating heavy, wet soils very well. Flower colors run from pinks to reds and whites, with some bi-colors as well. There are several species of mahonia that shine in the shade garden. Oregon Grape Holly is a common name, but these plants are setting flowers now, which will be open in a few weeks. The fragrant yellow blossoms will be followed by robin’s egg blue fruits. A new introduction is the Soft Caress mahonia, which looks almost like a small palm plant. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is already blooming in many parts of the state. Often mistaken for forsythia, which won’t be in bloom for a month or so, winter jasmine is a low growing plant with cascading branches covered in bright yellow flowers. Even though it does lose most of its leaves in the fall, the branches stay green. It has started blooming a bit earlier than normal this year. Some less known shrubs for winter interest include wintersweet and winterhazel. Both of these shrubs bloom in the winter and are highly fragrant. Winter sweet, Chimonanthus praecox is related to our common sweet shrub (calycanthus) and has smaller, fragrant flowers and is the first to bloom in January. By February, the winterhazel, Corylopsis platypetala is blooming. This plant is in the witchhazel family and while it has small flowers they cascade together in a small cluster. Both plants will grow in partial shade, and while not too exciting the rest of the season, can give you great fragrance and interest in the winter garden. Another fragrant winter shrub is winter honeysuckle. Its tiny white flowers may not stop traffic, but it can add fragrance to your home and garden.        

April 2010

QuestionI have three Sasanqua camellia plants that are 5' to 6' that are located on the north side of our home. They have outgrown their space and need to be moved to the east side of the house. When would be the best time of year to move them, and what should I do to prepare the new planting area?


AnswerI would move them now. Try to get as much of a root ball as you can. Replant in a well drained location and plant at the depth they are currently growing, or slightly more shallow. Water and mulch. If you damage any branches during the move, now is an ideal time to prune them as well. No fertilizer in the planting hole, but if you can amend the soil with compost that would encourage root spread. Don't be alarmed if they look puny for a month or so after the move, but they should bounce back quickly.


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