Camellias produce large, attractive flowers nestled amongst green foliage. These ornamental bushes thrive in mild climates, and there are also dwarf varieties that grow well in pots in cooler areas. Camellias are plagued by host of leaf diseases. Most aren't deadly, though they can ruin the appearance of the plant if left untreated.
Caused by a fungus, algal spot causes silvery-gray spots to form on foliage. Eventually the leaves yellow and die back completely. Overly moist conditions lead to this disease, especially when there is high moisture during the heat of summer. Healthy plants are rarely affected by algal spot, as it tends to primarily target and spread through weak camellias. There is no cure for algal spot, though pruning away infected leaves helps prevent it from spreading.
Plants infected with leaf gall bacteria first begin turning white or pink. Small galls, or growths, appear on the underside of the leaves. These later turn brown and rupture, producing a white powder. Leaf gall usually only infects a few leaves so it doesn't cause severe damage to the camellia. Removing infested leaves or handpicking the galls when they first form controls the disease. Chemical controls for leaf gall are also available.
Yellow Mottle Virus
Yellow mottle virus produces yellow mottling on camellia leaves and white blotches on the flowers. Plants are infected with the virus during the grafting process. There is no cure for yellow mottle virus and plants will eventually die off. Destroy infected plants immediately and prevent the introduction of the virus to your garden by purchasing only certified disease-free plants.
Root rot doesn't target camellia leaves, but the foliage provides one of the first signs of the disease. The fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi first kills off the camellias feeder roots, which causes the leaves to yellow and wilt. As the roots continue to rot, the entire plant dies off---sometimes within a few months. Fungicides are available to control root rot, but planting healthy plants in a well-drained area helps prevent the disease in the first place.
- Photo Credit CamÃ©lia image by Dominique LUZY from Fotolia.com
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