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Kumagai
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Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:28 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Camellia Sinsensis (Tea) Pests

Greetings,

I have a Camellia Sinensis that I bought from an internet nursery. It was shipped in a black plastic pot in late autumn. I've kept it outdoors and it produced a small first-flush of tea which I harvested.

Since then, it has contracted some problems. I have tried to identify them online, but I am having trouble and am seeking expert advice.

1) The tips of some of the leaves turn brown or gray and die. Most of the leaf is intact and if I cut off the dead tip it continues to live.

2) Some young leaves are curled and grow in a misshapen way. Is this aphid damage?

3) This one is the most serious. A majority of new buds have a large number of black mites or bugs attached to them. Sometimes the leaves below this grouping are sticky. The mites/bugs do not attack mature leaves, only terminal buds. I have been pruning any buds that exhibit this, but it doesn't seem to help. I think I need to try some kind of pest control.

I live in Houston where we had a very mild winter (some cold snaps, but mostly just chilly), and we have so far had a mild spring and summer has started out mild as well (about 80 to 90 degrees F daily).

I water a couple of times a week but try not to soak the container so much that water drips out the bottom.

The plant was fertilized by the nursery when I bought it and I did not fertilize it again until recently.

I would like to transplant the camellia to a bigger pot but I'm nervous about doing this during the spring/summer growing season. I have read that it is better to transplant in the fall when most of the root growth occurs. Am I better off to wait until fall or transplant during the growing season if I see some root tips growing out of the bottom of the pot now?

So, in summary, I am curious if anyone can recognize the three pests above and I have a question about transplantation.

Thank you, gurus!

-Tim in Houston

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Kisal
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Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

I think the plant may have black aphids. You can wash them off by holding the plant under the faucet. Be sure to wash the stems and undersides of the leaves, as well as the tops and the buds. You may have to repeat the treatment periodically, to keep the plant pest free.

I don't know about tea in particular, but in general, plants should be watered until water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Watering more deeply, but less often, is better for most plants. Do not allow the plant to stand in water, however. If there is a saucer under the plant, pour out any water that drains into it.

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Kumagai
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Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:28 pm
Location: Houston, TX

I think you're right about aphids. I pruned off the visibly shoots and sprayed some coconut-oil based dish detergent (about 1/2 tsp to an 8oz spray bottle) on the leaves. The aphids seem to have disappeared and the plant is returning to health quickly.

Thanks for the help!

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