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January camellia care tips for the Camellia City

Early-flowering Christmas camellias may be pruned and fertilized after they finish blooming. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Wait until after bloom for pruning or feeding

In the Camellia City, camellias are taking center stage.

These popular winter bloomers add color (and sometimes a little fragrance) to often gray days. It’s no wonder why we love them.

First to open are the Christmas camellias, which – true to their nickname – flowered throughout December and are still blooming now.

Next come the Japonica camellias, the pride of Sacramento and stars of the late winter garden. They tend to open in February.

Knowing which is which is important when it comes to camellia care.

As they finish flowering, prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter.

Feed with an acid-type fertilizer formulated for camellias, which prefer slightly acid soils.

But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming in early March. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

April is the best time to shape Japonica camellias, after they’ve finished their bloom cycle. Like the Sasanqua, the Japonicas need little if any trimming. They grow very slowly – and for a very long time. Healthy camellias can live for several decades.

Got some stunning camellia varieties in your garden? The 96th annual Sacramento Camellia Show will be held March 7 and 8 at the Elks Lodge, 6446 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento.

To learn more about the show and camellias, contact the Camellia Society of Sacramento.

Details: .

-- Debbie Arrington


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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