Healthy camellias don’t require much fertilizer

As long as your camellia looks healthy and is blooming normally, it doesn't need much fertilizer. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
As long as your camellia looks healthy and is blooming normally, it doesn't need much fertilizer. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: When is the best time to fertilize camellias? I’ve read several conflicting time frames. My two camellia bushes are heavy with buds. Gail D’Avino, Decatur

A: Generally, camellias do pretty well without much fertilizer. If it’s a young plant, fertilizing a couple of times a year would be good. The best time to apply the fertilizer is once in March/April and once in June. If you have older plants that look good, there’s no need to fertilize. I recommend either Milorganite or Holly Tone fertilizer, following label directions.

Q: There is a hackberry tree in my neighbor’s yard, 10 feet away, and its branches hang over our deck. The falling leaves deposit what looks like dirt and a sticky residue on our deck and plants. Is this from bugs or some other sickness on the tree? Hayley Von Hollen, DeKalb County

A: The tree is infested with hackberry aphids. But here is some good news: If the tree is only 10 feet away, there will inevitably be lots of underground roots on your property. You can use a systemic insecticide that contains imidacloprid to control the aphids from your side of the fence. The chemical will be absorbed by the roots and go up to the leaves and kill insects that suck sap. If you are tired of the mess, this is a way to fix it.

Q: What is the best app to identify plants and especially weeds? Sam Dutton, email

A: There are several available and I have five of them on my iPhone. I have tried out PlantNet, PlantSnap, IWSearch-Pro, PictureThis and Google Lens. One afternoon I wandered around my landscape taking pictures of various weeds and flowers as well as tree leaves. I submitted my photos to each of the apps and tallied the results. A couple have a clunky iPhone interface that makes them difficult to use. A couple more weren’t up to the job of identifying plants accurately. My two favorites are PictureThis and Google Lens. PictureThis is not free: It costs $29 per year. But it was easy to use and mostly accurate. Google Lens is free, reasonably easy to use, and about as accurate as PictureThis. Neither of these two apps was 100% accurate, but they were definitely better than the others. If you are curious about the plants in your area, I recommend using both of them. Another good resource is the Plant Identification Facebook group. I have turned to them several times when I had a mediocre photograph and needed some help. Remember that a clear picture of a leaf, flower or fruit is best for accurate identification.

Listen to Walter Reeves' segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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