General gardening topics

Common problems with Camellia to look out for

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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Camellias are beautiful plants when they are flowering but, just as any other plant, they are susceptible to some common problems. It’s important that you figure out what area of your Camellia is suffering so that you can figure out what the potential cause is and what solution works best.

Root Problems

Honey fungus or phytophthora root rot

If you dig up your plant and see that the roots are soft and brown, it is the result of root disease, usually honey fungus or phytophthora root rot. Root decay typically happens because of waterlogging. So whether you have a camellia in the ground or a container. If the roots sit in water for too long, they literally drown. You can help prevent this by making sure you only water when necessary, water at the right time of day, and water the appropriate amount.


Frost in the winter can also be problematic. If you are growing your Camellia in a container, make sure that you give the roots extra protection by wrapping the container with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece.

Vine weevil shrubs

One last reason you may have dropping leaves is because of vine weevil beetles and their grubs, this is more of a problem for plants that are grown in pots. Although adult vine weevil eats the leaves, usually around the edge of the leaves, it is the baby grubs that live in the soil and look similar to a maggot that causes the most damage as they eat the roots. Eventually, causing enough damage that the root system cannot support the plant and the first sign is usually the leaves start to droop. You can buy pesticides especially for vine weevil and it can be applied as a drench to the soil.

If you check on the roots and you notice that there are white grubs in the compost, that means your plant is under attack by the vine Weevil. Vine weevils affect all manner of container-grown plants, and their larvae feed on the roots. It’s important that you rectify the situation immediately by removing the ones you find and using commercial treatments.

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Stems and branch Problems

Leaf blight fungi

Branches dying back is a symptom of root problems. If you see that the stems and branches on your Camellia are dying back, it might be indicative of a poorly functioning root system. You can check this by digging up the roots and seeing what condition they are in. Alternatively, Leaf blight fungi can also be the cause of branch dieback, something that is discussed under the leaf problems section.

Leaf Problems

Nutrient deficiency

If you noticed that the leaves on your Camellia have turned yellow, it could be indicative of root problems. The roots, when improperly functioning, affect all areas of the plant. If you only see yellowing along the veins of the leaves though, that is indicative of a nutrient deficiency.

Camellias are acid-loving plants, so they suffer from manganese or iron deficiencies if the soil is too alkaline. If you have alkaline soil make sure you are adding ericaceous compost or acidic fertilizers.

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Yellow model virus

If you notice irregular blotches that are creamy white or yellow, it could be a yellow model virus. The virus has minimal effect on the plant bigger, but you can still treat it with commercial products.

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Shedding of old leaves

On occasion, the Camellias will shed their old leaves. Don’t worry if you see a few leaves turning yellow and falling off in spring or summer so long as the leaves falling off our old leaves and they are falling off near the base.

Leaf blight fungi

If you notice the leaves are turning brown, it is likely the result of a root problem or weather damage. If the Browning is not across the entire Leaf but in the form of spots, it could be Leaf blight fungi. Leaf blight fungi travel not just across the leaves but in severe cases from one branch to another end result in dieback. You can treat this immediately with a commercial fungicide.

Brown spots on leaves

On the note of the weather, following a heatwave, Camellias typically develop brown spots on their leaves. This is just a burn spot. As the weather dies down, so will the spots.

Aphids which cause sooty mould

However, if the spots are black growth and you notice that they are thick, that is sooty mold fungus. This is usually the byproduct of sap-sucking pests, and you will do well to remove the affected area and treat the problem with an insecticide or pesticide.

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Camellia Gall

If your plant is seemingly healthy, but one or two leaves are very swollen and white, this is called Camellia Gall. It’s very unsightly but it won’t affect the plant. You can pick up the affected leaves before they turn into fungal spores and spread.

Flower Problems

If your Camellia is healthy but rarely flowers, with buds developing than turning brown and falling off, this could be the result of adverse conditions in terms of temperature or soil. Make sure that your plant gets enough water and is fed only at the right time of the year. Low winter temperatures can also cause this so protect your plants with horticultural fleece.

If your flowers open but then quickly turned brown, that’s usually the result of frost damage. We usually recommend planting camellias where they won’t get morning sun or in a frost pocket to avoid this happening.

Now that you know the most common problems with Camellias, you can keep your eyes peeled for them and treat them sooner rather than later, ensuring your plant remains as healthy as possible all year round.

Last update on 2022-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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