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Dying ancient camellia

Liz Broussard
April 16, 2017

I have a pair of camellias planted in my front yard in full sun. Both are about 80 years old. They are both well drained. The one that is dying has an ancient holly tree which gives it very little shade. That is the only side that is not totally dying. I had someone from the LSU extension office look at it. They suspect root rot. It appears my aunt had a lawn service which may have damaged the bark as we looked and it has some old scarring. We had a period of extreme rain in August, lasting several days. Then some freezing temperatures March which was very unusual for south Louisiana. Please help. LSU says no hope. I live in the family homestead and am heartbroken about this camellia. Her sister is still doing fine.

Comments (7)

  • Jean

    Sorry, but I agree w/ LSU.

    Liz Broussard thanked Jean
  • luis_pr

    Well, if it means so much to you, get a second opinion from another place. But LSU is a good source. By the way, I would try to propagate via cuttings a few babies... just in case...

    Liz Broussard thanked luis_pr
  • Jean

    Propagation is most likely to be successful when the parent plant is healthy.

    This potential parent is barely hanging on.

  • Liz Broussard

    I probably should propagate from her healthy sister. So sad. Grandmother's. I live in the family homestead. They have been growing there for so long, I never did anything with them. My bad! I need to make sure the other one does not succumb to this.

  • mramsey

    It might be worth pruning to see if that rejuvenates the plant.... also, if the root rot was as a result of excess water, the soil may be compacted and airless. A little gentle soil stirring and addition of a humous rich compost might also help. Good luck!

  • Vicissitudezz

    If it were me, I would definitely try to root cuttings from the sister plant. If you have room, it's always good to have a spare of a valuable plant.

    The LSU folks probably know what they're talking about, but plants don't always read the manuals and textbooks, and so don't always act appropriately. It might be worth cutting your camellia way back to see if that may kick-start new growth. The worst that will happen is that it won't, but I'm guessing that's also what will happen if you do nothing.

    Good luck,


  • Brad Edwards

    LSU does know what they are talking about. I would think they would have had to butcher a trunk with a weedeater to kill a camellia that size. Take out the grass to the left of the camellia and get some pine straw your PH could be too high. Trim to 3 foot. I would add some 10x10x10 in with the pinestraw and a bag of black cow manure. Its dry this time of year so water it in well. Then see if you get new growth in the spring out of the bottom, you never know. A trick to use when pruning dead vs live growth is the snap method. It is my redneck method of snapping back limbs and seeing if there is any green growth, dead growth will snap dry. Live growth often bends or has green. The top left is dead as a door nail. I would trim up up, think Crape Murder.

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