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Ask Dr. Hort: Camellia drops blooms for different reasons

Camellias

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Camellias

Camellia blooms drop for different reasons

Q: I have a beautiful camellia bush. It looks healthy and is full of buds, but when the blooms open they drop right off. I have tried different fertilizers but nothing works. Heidi O'Connell, Palm Harbor

A: There are several reasons that flowers and buds fall prematurely on camellias. Some are cultural, some are due to the particular variety and some are due to disease. Camellias prefer broken shade, even soil moisture and consistent temperatures, without big swings. Any of these cultural or environmental factors that are not met can cause bud and flower drop.

Camellias are grouped into four categories based on the time of year that they bloom: early season (September-November); early-mid season (November-December); mid season (December-February); and late season (February-March). The best varieties for our area are mid season. Later varieties have a tendency to "bull nose," where the flower starts to open and then falls off.

There's also a fungus that causes petal blight. Tan to brown spots appear on the flower petals and over time cause the flower to fall. To get the disease under control, pick up and discard fallen flowers and watch for tiny gray-brown mushrooms to appear on the soil around the plant. Begin using a fungicidal drench containing PCNB in December and follow up in four- to six-week cycles. You have plenty of homework to figure out which problem you have and correct for your next blooming season. Happy scouting!

Weeds seriously frustrate her many attempts to grow grass

Q: I could tear out my hair about lawn grass. In our first Florida home, we were happy to xeriscape. Soon found, however, that I could not keep up with the weeding. The next house had sprinklers installed, though the St. Augustine grass was full of dollarweed and rampant crabgrass, (or what the chemical people call "wild grass" or something that smothers everything else, dies to brown in cooler weather, and then is back in full flower next spring). After being advised to completely strip the lawn and install new grass, the dollarweed and wild grass were back in no time.

We replaced the south half of the lawn with Bahia grass, as I was assured it would not harbor dollarweed. It's full of it. It's also given to bare spots, uneven growth, general raggedyness, and new and unfamiliar kinds of weeds (throughout summer, not just after cold spells). We live on a canal that opens up to Tampa Bay. Eileen O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg

A: It sounds like you need to grow dollarweed and get rid of everything else, but if it is grass that you want, you're better off with St. Augustine, living on a canal.

You need to get rid of all the dollarweed using a selective, systemic herbicide. This will kill not only the leaves, but the underground parts as well. Imaziquin (Image) will do the trick. It can be sprayed over perennial peanut, sunshine mimosa or St. Augustine grass without damage if applied following label directions. With dollarweed gone, resod with sand-grown St. Augustine grass, not muck-grown, because of your dredged up soil. Don't irrigate and fertilize to excess.

Follow "Florida Friendly Principles," information that's available at solutionsforyourlife.org. You'll be happy this time around!

Need help? Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. E-mail him at drhort@tampabay.rr.com or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe problem in full, and include your name, city of residence and contact information. If possible, include a good-quality photo. Fuzzy ones won't do. Photos cannot be returned.

Need help?

Need help? Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. E-mail him at drhort@tampabay.rr.com or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe problem in full, and include your name, city of residence and contact information. If possible, include a good-quality photo. Fuzzy ones won't do. Photos cannot be returned.

Ask Dr. Hort: Camellia drops blooms for different reasons 03/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 3:30am]

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