How To Transplant A Camellia

What You'll Need
Garden shovel
Garden clippers or scissors
Organic mulch

Camellia, a spectacular specimen flowering plant or shrub, requires special care when transplanting. In the home garden, transplanting may involve a balled and burlapped camellia, container-grown camellia, or digging up and moving a camellia from one spot to another. Each method involves specific steps.

Transplanting Balled and Burlapped Camellia

Usually these are the big specimen camellias grown and sold in the nurseries.

Step 1 – Transplant in Dormant Season

Balled and burlapped camellias will fare the best if you transplant them during the fall through spring timeframe. Soil moisture is generally adequate during the winter and roots have time to grow and become established by spring.

Step 2 – Prepare Soil and Dig Hole

Cultivate soil 8 to 10 inches deep. This will help encourage root development. Next, dig a hole twice the width, but no deeper than the root ball of the camellia.

Step 3 – Remove Cords and Wire

Carefully remove all cords and wire surrounding the root ball. Then pull back the burlap 8 to 10 inches from the top of the root ball.

Step 4 – Plant Camellia

Place the camellia root ball in the freshly-dug hole so that the root ball is level with the surface. Next, backfill with native soil and break apart clods. Use your fingers to tamp down the soil and remove air pockets.

Step 5 – Mulch and Water

After planting, add 3 inches of organic mulch around the camellia (pine straw, pine bark or well-rotted sawdust work), and water well. Keeping soil moist, but not wet, is critical to growing camellias successfully.

Transplanting Container Stock

The easiest way to transplant successfully is to use container stock from the nursery. Follow the same steps as for balled and burlapped camellias with the exception of step 3. Instead, use garden scissors or fingers to loosen roots in places where the plant has become pot-bound. Make sure to water plants regularly and thoroughly.

Moving Around the Garden

Many camellia experts discourage trying to transplant a camellia from one spot in the garden to another. For some reason, camellias don’t seem to take this very well –and definitely not during the warmer months. If it must be done, try to minimize the shock to the plant as much as possible.

Step 1 – Dig Roots

Gauge how big and wide to dig the hole around the existing camellia plant to be transplanted. Root digging can be tricky, since this is where the most damage can occur. Remember, camellias are shallow-rooted plants, so be extra careful.

Step 2 – Place on Plastic Sheet

To move the camellia root ball, position it on a piece of heavy plastic or cardboard. Be careful not to dislodge the root ball any more than necessary.

Step 3 - Dig Hole

Follow directions for step 2 of balled and burlapped plants next, followed by steps 4 and 5.