WSU Extension


Caption: Cold damage on camellia
Photo by: R.S. Byther
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Camellia : Cold injury
(revision date: 4/23/2014)

Camellia leaves are sensitive to direct sunlight, which kills leaf tissue. Sunburn occurs when the shrub is planted in full sun or against a south- or west-facing wall. Winter sunlight can induce sunburn when low soil temperatures induce slower metabolism in root systems. Excessive daytime transpiration rates coupled with reduced soil water uptake creates moisture stress in leaves. This causes brown areas to spread along leaf margins, weakening the plant. Damage is most severe on the side of the plant exposed to sun and/or air flow. Buds and stems may also die as a result of unusually cold conditions. Drooping and rolling leaves may occur as a protective reaction to reduce the surface area exposed to the cold. These leaves usually return to normal in spring.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • In spring, prune away dead wood all the way back to healthy, green wood. Do not prune live wood.
  • Use loose organic mulch to maintain soil moisture and protect from extreme cold.
  • Transplant affected camellias to shady and calm areas, or provide further shading in present areas.
  • Do not fertilize, prune, or water heavily late in the season.
  • Water during fall and early winter dry spells; pay attention to plants under roof overhangs or other dry areas.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended

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Caption: Cold damage on camellia
Photo by: R.S. Byther