In the 1990s a camillia flower blight arrived in New Zealand. As its name suggests, camellia flower (or petal) blight damages only the flowers of camellias. It has become established throughout the country.
Identify the problem
Initially just spots, the camellia flower blight infection, Ciborinia camelliae, spreads over the petals turning the entire flower brown.
There is currently no effective way of controlling camellia flower blight. However, some cultural techniques and protective fungicide can help reduce the likelihood of infection.
- Collect and destroy all diseased blooms on and beneath the plant.
- Each spring, remove the old mulch, and then lay a layer of 2-3 cm of fresh bark or pine straw mulch around the base of each camellia. The mulch will interfere with the spread of spores to the flower buds.
Note: Be sure not to over-mulch camellia; burying the root system under 4 cm of mulch may harm the plant.
- In dormancy, and up to the buds showing colour, apply Organic Super Sulphur.
Did You Know
- Small black bodies, called sclerotia, appear at the base of the blighted petals several weeks after the blooms fall to the ground. Black sclerotia are usually seen on the decaying petals. The following autumn or winter, some sclerotia may produce a small, mushroom-like structure, called an apothecia, while others remain dormant for up to 5 years. Spores, which are released by the apothecia, are spread to camellia flower buds by air currents, germinate under favourable weather conditions, and rapidly infect the petals.
- Camellia flower blight is caused by the fungus Ciborinia camelliae