Camellia, the Time for Pruning and Multiplication
For those who own one or more Camellia plants, this is the time to devote to pruning or cleaning the plant, but also to multiplication.
The Camellia is a plant of great ornamental prestige, which lives in many Italian gardens, including mine. The genus includes more than 100 species and there are different colors, shapes and sizes of their flowers.
They are shrubby plants that in nature can reach even 15/20 meters high, slightly lower if grown in the garden. They bloom in the cold months until spring, and then enter into vegetative rest during the summer.
This is precisely the period in which our Camellia will no longer have any flowers, so you can act by cleaning the plant, giving it back vigor. But let’s see how and what to do by continuing the article.
Meanwhile, if you are a lover of Camellias, I suggest you give a read also to this short post: “ad-ortensie camellias azaleas do not want to give up? Here’s what to do”, where you can find some more tips, to grow this species of plant.
Pruning the Camellia
Pruning is not an indispensable practice for the Camellia, but you can intervene by removing the old branches and damaged by the weather and the broken branches and too vigorous, ie those grown in a disorderly manner, also become bulky. If your camellia is medium or large in size, it is always good to remove the branches that grow towards the center of the plant, which prevent the entry of light. Then we will give the Camellia a more tidy and clean silhouette.
These operations are carried out after the fall of the flowers, then in the period from June, until before the birth of the new buds.
If the plant has a large number of buds, we can decide to branch them out, ie remove some. This practice serves not to subtract energy and increase the size of the flowers.
Remember that when you prune your Camellia, many branches that you take away, may come in handy for the multiplication of the species. But now let’s see the methods and how to do it.
How to multiply the Camellia.
There are three methods by which we can multiply Camellias in the amateur field: by seed, by cutting and by offshoot. Let’s see how.
Multiplication by Seed
It is the technique used both by nurserymen to select new varieties, and at the amateur level as the simplest. The seeds will be found inside the fruits of the camellia, they are spherical capsules of light green colour at the beginning, and then become reddish once ripe. By the end of summer, around the time of August, the fruits dried up and will open in three parts, releasing the seeds inside them. This is the period in which we can take them. We can collect the dried fruits from the plant, opening them manually. The seeds are dark and round, of about 1 cm of diameter, and are to be sown as soon as possible.
How to Sow
After harvesting the seeds, we will proceed to sowing. Here’s how.
Let’s take some small pots that we will fill with a good soil suitable for sowing, composed of peat and sand in equal parts. Once this operation is completed, place the seed in the pot, at a depth of two times the size of the seed and cover. Now that the pots are ready, wet them with a nebulizer and put them in the seedbed or in a homemade propagator, covering them with the appropriate cover or with the transparent film. Keep the soil moist constantly, spray the soil and close the seedbed again. Keep the propagator in a damp place with a temperature of about 20°. The seed will initially emit only the taproot, which will not be affected by light.
You need a lot of patience, after a few months you will see the first sprouts sprout, which at least for the first period will grow slowly. Now they will be gradually moved to the light, keeping them in the shade. By the time the seedling is planted with 4-5 leaves, it will have grown to the point that it will be transplanted. Reproducing the Camellia from seed is a method which requires extreme patience, even the flowering will not take place before 4 years.
Multiplication by Cutting
It is the best technique to carry out, faster and with higher possibilities of having a specimen with the characteristics of the mother plant. Here is how to proceed.
In summer, we take the branches of the year, that is, the youngest ones. They can be recognized by the lighter colour of the branch, softer and not yet woody. We get portions long 15-20 cm, making a flute beak cut, remove the excess leaves leaving the two apicals and peel the base of the branch. Once these operations have been carried out, let’s fill a small pot of peat and sand, prepare a hole where to place the cutting, which must be buried for at least half of its length. Water the ground by spraying it with water and cover the Camellia cutting with a half a plastic bottle. Watering with a nebulizer should be short and frequent. The rooting varies depending on the species, can take place within 4-5 months in the most fortunate cases, but the period may be even longer or unfortunately may not happen.