camellias provide color to the fall and winter ... gardening in gwinnett • • 1 camellias...

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  • a newsletter by Gwinnett County Extension

    Gwinnett County Agent: Timothy Daly

    • 1Gardening In Gwinnett •

    Camellias provide color to the fall and winter landscape

    Throughout our area, camellias are a favor- ite evergreen shrub. They have attractive dark green broad leaves, and they bloom prolifically during the cold weather months. Camellias produce flowers in a multitude of shapes and colors with more than 2,300 dif- ferent varieties registered with the Ameri- can Camellia Society. Camellias usually grow to a height of 6 to 12 feet, but have the potential to grow much larger. Because they are evergreen shrubs, they are attrac- tive landscape plants throughout the year. Given proper care and maintenance, camellias are a great addition to the home landscape. Camellias have many practical uses in the land- scape. Since the shrubs have the potential to grow large, they are often used as specimen plants and screens.

    Camellias should be planted in well drained organic soil in areas of partial shade since excessive sun can cause sun scald and yellowing of the leaves. They also prefer locations that are protected from the wind. As with planting other trees and shrubs, dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball, and then place the root- ball in the hole at a depth where the top is slightly above the soil level. Avoid planting it too deep, which could possibly cause root rot. Fill in the hole with the original soil and cover it with a two to three inch layer of organic mulch such as pine straw, pine bark, or cypress mulch. Camellia plants require adequate water during the first year. However, well established older camellias require no water- ing except during prolonged dry spells. Camellias prefer a pH of 5.0 to 6.5, and do not need a lot of fertilizer. One level tablespoon of an all purpose fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, per foot of plant height applied in March and then again in June is usually sufficient in the first couple of years. Broadcast the fertilizer evenly across the soil underneath the plant and water in thoroughly. Once the plants become established, they seldom need supplemental fertilization. Be aware that sometimes flower buds drop off the plants, which is quite natural and harmless in most cases. Often camellias produce more buds than can be- come flowers and shed the excess ones. Camellias are great shrubs to grow and they liven up the landscape with their form, dark green foliage, and colorful blooms. Proper care and maintenance will allow them to perform at their bests for many years to come.

    In this issue:

    Camellias provide color to fall and 1 winter landscape

    Use caution when planting around 2 septic drainfields

    Timely tips for fall 2

    Questions and answers 3

    Extension educational programs 3

    Camellia ‘Anita’ John Ruter, Uni- versity of Georgia, and ‘Royal’ Intrigue’ camellia. John Ruter, UGA,

    Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’ blooms in March and forms a double flower. Photograph by Joey Williamson

    ©2012 HGIC. Clemson Extension

    Fall 2014

  • 2 • gwinnettcounty • Cooperative Extension •

    Many homeowners in Gwinnett County have septic systems, and they frequently question what can be grown, if anything, over their sep- tic drain field. Plant material can be beneficial in these areas by managing moisture and nutrient levels within the soil. It can also help limit activities that can compact the soil and reduce the effectiveness of the system. However, using the wrong plants can potentially harm the septic drain field and lead to costly repairs.

    Certain plants by their nature have a greater potential to disturb the septic drain field systems. Shallow rooted an- nual and perennial herbaceous plants can be planted closer to the drain fields since they do not have invasive roots. Turf- grass can be grown over the drain field and is beneficial since it helps hold the soil in place. Trees and shrubs should be planted further away from it since they have more extensive root systems. A good rule of thumb is to use the ultimate mature height of selected tree as the minimum planting dis- tance from the septic drainfield.

    Some plants, such as willows and river birches, are known for invading septic lines. Others to avoid include magno- lias, poplars, red maples, sugar maples, and elms. The extra moisture and nutrients are favorable to the growth of the roots of these plants causing the lines to become clogged.

    Use caution when planting around septic drainfields

    You can plant shallow root trees and shrubs, such as crabapples, dogwoods, hemlocks, hollies and arborvitae to- wards the drier ends of the drain lines.

    Avoid the placement of groundcov- ers, such as English ivy or liriope, over septic drain fields. They can form thick mats and collect leaf debris preventing the soil from being able to dry out.

    Locate vegetable gardens away from the septic drain fields. The vegetables,

    especially root vegetables, could be- come contaminated with disease-caus- ing microbes. Different soil types vary in their ability to filter contaminants;

    however, there is no way to be absolutely certain that every- thing is filtered out.

    Do not apply excessive amounts of mulch or soil on top of the drain field. Raised beds should not be installed over it. This can have a detrimental effect on the perfor- mance of the system by causing the soil to become com- pacted and by preventing soil moisture from evaporating.

    By carefully choosing and placing plant material around septic drain fields, you can have an attractive landscape that is ben- eficial to the system. Most importantly, this can reduce the chances of costly septic line repairs.

    • In October, begin planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. They need to be in the soil over winter since the cold temperatures help them develop flowers for the following spring.

    • Remove summer vegetables from the garden to reduce sources for diseases and insects. Begin planting the fall vegetable garden with cool weather vegetables such as collards, cabbage, and turnips.

    • Harvest squash and pumpkins when they ripen. Do not let them become overly ripe on the vine since they will rot. • Divide perennials, such as daylilies, iris, hostas, and liriope while there are several weeks of warm weather left to encourage root

    growth. • Install shrubs and trees. Even though the weather is chilly outdoors, the soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth. The

    plants will be better established to tolerate the hot, dry weather of the following summer. • Pansies provide great color in the cold weather. Plant them six inches apart in well-drained soil with organic matter. • Rake fallen leaves off turfgrass areas and gardens to keep their accumulations form smothering the plants. • Drain your irrigation system and outdoor faucets. If the faucets can’t be drained, wrap them with insulation for the winter.

    Timely tips for fall

    Aviod planting trees and shrubs with agressive, water seeking roots such as red maples. (Photograph by

    Timothy Daly, Gwinnett County Extension)

  • Last winter, my bermudagrass lawn was infested with weeds such as annual bluegrass, chickweed, and henbit. How can I prevent these weeds from creating an unsightly appearance in my lawn again this year? You should apply a pre-emergent herbicide that is labeled for use on bermudagrass lawns. It controls weeds as they emerge from seeds. September in to early October is the best time of the year to use. Please follow all label directions and safety precautions when using pesticides. I have noticed a couple of branches on one of my loblolly pines have a swelling with orange material coming out of it. Will this kill my pine, and what type of pesticide can I use for control?

    The pine tree has a fungal disease called fusiform rust. It causes the swelling of the branches, and the orange material are spores which are analogous to seeds. It seldom kills the trees. The best way to control it is to remove the branch with the infestation. Pesticides are ineffective at controlling the fungus.

    Should I apply fertilizer to my bermudagrass in the fall?

    Do not apply any fertilizer to bermudagrass and other warm season grasses such as zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and St. Agustine grass. This will delay the lawn from going into winter dormancy and make it more susceptible to cold damage.

    Questions and answers

    Upcoming Cooperative Extension events for fall 2014

    Spring flowering bulbs • October 20 Noon to 1:00pm. The fall is the time of the year to plant many spring flowering bulbs. They will have a spectacular display next spring if given proper care. Pre-register by October 16.

    This class is held in the Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension Conference Room in the Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension office, 750 South Perry Street, #400 in Lawrenceville. There is no charge, but pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Timothy Daly at 678.377.4010 or

    Detention Pond Maintenance • November 13 7:00pm to 8:00pm. Detention ponds are stormwater control structures that provide both retention and treatment of stormwater runoff. By capturing and retaining runoff during storm events, detention ponds control both stormwater quantity and quality. The pon