Question: My camellia’s flowers never develop. The plant grows well, but I never get any full flowers.

Answer: The answer depends on where the camellia plant is growing. In North Texas they’re probably getting frozen, especially if you’re growing a variety of Camellia japonica. That group’s prime blooming time is January and February, and cold at that time catches them in tight bud. Moisture within the buds freezes and ruptures the floral tissues, hence no flowers. Varieties of C. sasanqua, by comparison, bloom in late November and December, so they get most of their flowering over with by the time of the first hard freeze. The plants are also several degrees more winter-hardy, an added advantage. For South Texas, on the other hand, you’re probably dealing with a disease called botrytis if the buds turn wet and mushy, or with thrips if they’re dried to a crisp and fail to open properly. Use a fungicide for botrytis and a systemic insecticide for thrips.

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