Camellia leaf gall

If new leaves on Camellia plants become thick and very pale green or pink, and the underside of the leaf starts becoming white – the plant is suffering from ‘Camellia leaf gall’. This is a fungal disease that affects tender new growth of Camellia sasanqua (and sometimes Camellia reticulata), especially in very humid or wet, shady conditions. Fungal diseases are a sign that growing conditions are stressing your plants and their immune system is compromised. There is no organic or chemical treatment for this disease. However, an application of seaweed extract tea will help to strengthen the cell walls of the affected plants and make them more resistant to disease.

But, first the affected growth must be removed, preferably before the undersides of leaves develop white spores. You will need a baked bean tin containing about 5 cm of methylated spirits to sterilize secateurs blades, and a large garbage bag for the prunings. Prune off all affected growth (swish the open secateurs in the spirits often while pruning) and place it directly into the garbage bag. Also collect in the bag any fallen leaves as they can harbour the fungal spores that will activate this disease again when conditions are suitable. Seal the bag and put it in the garbage if you are unable to burn the leaves. Do not compost them. Then give the soil around the plants a drink of seaweed extract at the recommended strength, and protect the soil surface with 3–5 cm of fresh mulch. Make sure your camellias are watered when the top centimetre of soil is dry, but afford watering the foliage. Also give the plants an annual application of compost or complete organic fertiliser and seaweed extract tea in late winter.

See below, how affected new growth appears, and close-up of affected leaves.

Photos courtesy of A. Lavick.

5 thoughts on “Camellia leaf gall

  1. Thanks for the information. I had no idea what this disease is. Just finished cutting all the stems affected and placing in a bag and then the bin. Thank goodness I only have two Sasanqua camellias!

  2. Thanks for the information re leaf gall, none of my gardening friends could tell me what it was. Now some work needs to be done on an otherwise healthy bush.

  3. My Camellia plant experienced those kinds of symptoms but I didn’t know back then that it was a fungal disease but thanks to this blog I was able to diagnose it and later one was given proper treatment. This is a very helpful blog!

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