Southern California Camellia Society


Kristina Hooper -

Although you don't have to fertilize your camellia for it to bloom, it will produce stronger growth and larger more colorful blooms when fertilized. This section will cover fertilization during the growing season, which is when plants first begin new growth (March or April depending on your area and variety) to late summer. Be careful not to overfeed - it can damage or kill the plant.

Commercial fertilizers have a series of three numbers on their labels. Each number stands for an element of the fertilizer: N-P-K. The first number is Nitrogen, the second is Phosphorus, the last is Potassium. (K is the chemical symbol for Potassium on the Periodic Table.) High Nitrogen (N) numbers indicate a fertilizer for the growing season - and also a fertilizer that has the potential to burn if used incorrectly. Fertilizers low in "N" and higher in "P" and "K" are usually used for the dormant season and help to produce larger more colorful blooms. P and K are also useful during the growing season, combined with nitrogen.

Mel Belcher -

As to my fertilizing program, it works for me, but many of the fastidious growers are critical of it. The tried and true recipe was 5: 1: 1-5 parts by volume of cottonseed meal to 1 part each of blood meal and a chelated iron product. I have experienced much better tolerance to heat and much better growth using the Miracle-Gro products. I am still adjusting my program as new products come out.

The first product I use is Miracle-Gro's 30-10-10, 1 Tbsp dissolved in one gallon of water (that is 1/2 the suggested amount); I use this every 2-4 weeks for about 3-5 feedings (when the first flush of growth is over or when the leaves look sooooooooo big for that variety). Then I switch to the regular Miracle-Gro,15-30-15, at 1 Tbsp per gallon for a couple more feedings. This should put us close to Sept. 1, and I never fertilize for growth past the first part of August. I have used various dormant fertilizers. What I am using most is again the Miracle-Gro product. It has a lot of the traces and otherwise good elements.

Bradford King -

I begin in April (when Camellias first feather out --some by Late March) with bi-weekly liquid fertilization using Miracle Gro for Camellias and Azaleas. I do three bi-weekly applications. After that I use cottonseed meal and iron every 45 days. I used to do 5 parts cottonseed meal, 1 part iron and 1 part blood meal. This year the iron had some nitrogen in it so I did not use the blood meal. [High-nitrogen fertilizers are] 'hot fertilizers' that can cause fertilizer burn. I throw a handful on most in ground plants and a small/tight handful on pots. I usually do the cottonseed mix 3 times depending on when I am on vacation, but if it is hot I just use cotton seed.