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I had two camellias planted in November (spring) by my landscaper, from the same nursery. They've been fertilised the same at planting and watered the same, and are only 3 feet away.

One is losing its leaves, yet the other looks fine. Three other camellias also planted the same time are also good.

I assume it's a root issue, but could it just be a feeding issue somehow?

The bad: camellia losing its leaves

And the normal: camellia not losing leaves

Update 20 Dec 2016

The landscaper replaced this tree a few months ago. He said the root ball just didn't grow. And then today he came to replace another one, as well as plant a new one next to another sick looking camellia. So, we're talking about 3/6 either died or looking sickly. Yet I have other camellias in the same area that are doing well, though they're a broad leaf variety.

We examined the roots of the one we removed today, and some of the larger roots were not very strong, snapping easily or just pulled away. But lots of fine roots were present. So, not much closer to an answer. He's going to take it back to the nursery to ask them.

  • I think that is a good bet - root problems. I've only lost one camellia. It was in a pot and was being developed to be a bonsai. I failed to water it during the winter and the next spring I touched it - the blossom buds and leaves fell off! Do you know yours got adequate water before/after planting? – Jim Young Mar 25 '16 at 6:08
  • Yes, I watered daily for three weeks after transplanting, every second day for a month after that, and probably twice a week during summer. – Graham Chiu Mar 25 '16 at 6:11
  • Do you have voles/moles (vegetarian burrowing critters)? – Jim Young Mar 25 '16 at 6:14
  • No burrowing mammals here – Graham Chiu Mar 25 '16 at 6:14
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Are the planting holes the correct size and is your soil acidic? The root balls of camellias are quite small. If into alkaline clay or a borderline neutral soil , the planting hole may well be acting like a pot, and possible water logging. A 2 x yearly watering of rain water containing sequestered iron will remedy any iron deficiencies. There are deciduous rhododendrons, are there deciduous camellias? I don't think so. In which case you may need to ask for a replacement if they haven't been in for a very long time.

  • They're all planted into introduced top soil which is working for 5 of the 6. Maybe the sapling is a dud. – Graham Chiu Mar 25 '16 at 8:47
  • I think you're right, if they've only been there a little while, it may have been an issue already present. So it needs replacing, it's a shame as I think we feel responsible as gardeners, but it's not always our fault. – user13638 Mar 25 '16 at 9:10

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