Monday, September 24, 2007


We have purchased my in laws old house. Against the house are four camellias planted in the sixties and treated like shrubs..cut within an inch of their lives every year! I just discovered that the effect on them is rather bonsai like at the base--as they have super tremendous and beautiful trunks such as I have not seen on a Camellia before. I am concerned because they must be moved to a new location and I am certain their root balls must be mixed as they are planted close together. We are perplexed at how to get these out of the ground without harming them. We have been advised to loosen the soil and use truck and a rope cushioned by a hose to lift them out. I had considered watering the soil quite well a few days in advance to help soften it (we live in Greenville, SC--it is dry here and the soil is rather hard) I have not moved a Camellia before and I am not certain what to expect as far as the size of the root balls. I have not allowed the bushes to be trimmed since we purchased the house 7 months ago and they are probably about 4 feet now and loaded with leaves. (quite healthy despite their current living arrangement) If we manage to move them successfully...then get them trimmed properly they will be some of the most beautiful Camellias I have ever seen, having these massive trunks and I am anxious to do everything I can do to save them. You said that you don't fertilize Camellia's after a you give them anything at all?

With kindest regards,


Anne's response:

Large camellias do have a large rootball. The easiest way to get them out of the ground is with a backhoe or a tree spade that can support the root ball without breaking any of the feeder roots. Trying to pull them out of the ground with a rope and truck will break roots and bruise the bark of the tree. They do need to be watered well to soften the ground before removing the plants. Prepare their new place by digging a hole that is no deeper than the rootball of the plant and about twice the width of the rootball. Mix some of the native soil with finely ground pine bark and other organic soil conditioners. Put about 4 inches of the mixture in the bottom of the hole and pput the camellia in place. Fill the hole up half way with the soil mixture and water it well. Add the rest of the soil and water the plant well. Use pine bark mulch to cover the original root ball (which will probably be an inch or two higher than the surrounding ground) and an area that extends at least a foot beyond the rootball. A 3 inch deep layer of mulch is all that is needed and don’t put it up right next to the trunk.

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