5 Reasons Why Camellia Leaves Turning Brown [Fixing Guide]

Camellias are probably the most sensitive yet the most beautiful flowers in your garden. Hence, the flower and its leaves may face several problems and you might also discover your Camellia leaves are turning brown.

We know that is heartbreaking. But once you look for the reasons, you will find some common ones. However, the main reason is several viral and fungal infections. There are some other environmental issues, temperature damage, attack of pests, over and underwatering, and other abiotic and edema disorders

Nonetheless, the brown leaves also affect the flowers making them unappealing in appearance. Therefore, you must take immediate action.

Thus, to help you with problem discussion and getting to the solutions, we are here. Keep up with us till the end.

ReasonFixing Guide
Fungal and Viral InfectionsApply fungicide and sanitize the garden
Pest and Insect AttacksApply pesticides and insecticides
Attack of NematodesAdopts cultural practices
Soil alkalinityApply acidic fertilizer
Drainage and watering issuesWatering regularly and ensuring the drainage system

 Why My Camellia Leaves are Turning Brown – Solution

yellow and brown leaves on a Camellia bush

Fungal and Viral Infections

Among several reasons, fungal and viral infections are the most caused reasons for camellia leaves turning brown. The plant can be attacked by Phytophthora root rot and honey fungus. If fungus attacks the root of camellia, then it will not be able to take up any nutrients to serve the entire plant.

Again, the fungal attack makes the roots of the plant rotten. So, it also affects the leaves by turning their edges yellow. Moreover, it also stops the growth of the plant and does not allow it to bloom.

However, virus attack is more evident in camellia compared to fungal attack. If the virus attacks your camellia, it shows some unusual symptoms.

The leaves of the flower develop irregular and yellow blotches on the surface. The blotches are creamy-white at first. However, this viral infection may not cause severe damage to the flowers and their leaves. Yet, letting the virus remain for a long time has a side effect.

Nonetheless, camellia is often attacked by the camellia yellow mottle leaf virus. It causes yellow and brown patterns on the leaf surface. Moreover, it also causes mottling. Eventually, the entire leaves of camellia turn yellow and then brown and black.

However, the virus is mainly transmitted from stock that is already infected. Thus, be it fungal or viral, when your camellia shows symptoms, prompt treatment is necessary.

Control Measure

  • Pick up the affected plant parts and destroy and burn them away from your garden.
  • Go for camellia stock that is free from infection and healthy.
  • Also, pick up only the disease-resistant varieties of camellia to protect your flower plant from several virus attacks.
  • Make sure that your camellia is getting proper nutrients as well.
  • Again, to avoid fungal diseases of camellia roots, make sure there is no stagnant water.
  • However, if the fungal attack is severe, you can apply the best commercial fungicide specifically made for camellia. (Our pick: Monterey LG 6145 70% Neem Oil Ready-To-Spray Insecticide, Miticide, & Fungicide).

Pest and Insect Attacks

Pest and Insect Attacks on Camellias

Camellias are sensitive but they are also resistant to pests. But if the environment is not suitable then several insects might attack them.

However, among many, some scale insect species are highly responsible for turning your camellia leaves brown. The insects lead the leaves to wilt and drop eventually making them brown.

In severe cases, the infestation might slow or stunt the growth of the plant. Eventually, parts of the camellia plant die but it leaves the brown branches of leaves there.

Again, among many species, the cottony cushion scales and soft scales happen to exude a sticky substance called honeydew. This substance attracts other pests and insects like ants. Also, it induces the growth of sooty mold.

Spider mites also affect the camellia leaves making the top brown and bronze in color. Again, aphids are common pests of camellia. Sucking the sap from the leaves, aphids can make an entire leaf turn brown.

So, at a certain point, the insect attack gets severe and uncontrollable. Hence, quick identification is highly required to manage the situation.

Control Measure

  • First of all, you have to identify the species of scale insects to make an effective control. You can easily identify them by seeing their morphological features.
  • Some armored scale insects come with a flat and somewhat plat-like body cover. Whereas, the soft scale insects do not have such features. Rather, they have a smooth or waxy and cottony body texture.
  • Again, cottony cushioned scale insects have an egg sac featured with their body that is cottony and fluted.
  • Also, you can recognize spider mites easily. Just take a sheet of paper and hold it beneath an infected leaf. Then give a few taps. The mites will drop on the paper and you can see them since they are visible to the human eye.
  • However, to control armored scales, you can invite some natural predators like hoppers, lacewings, ladybird beetle, and all. These predators will prey on the scale insects and the insects can be controlled. But this technique is only applicable when the attack is in the initial stage.
  • Nonetheless, in the case of severe infestation, you can opt for some homemade remedies. Horticultural oil spray has been proven effective to control cottony cushioned and armored scales. It also removes aphids. Also, spraying the oil during early summer or late winter will bring the best result since insect infestation takes place in these periods.
  • But at times the infestation might get out of control and you may need to go for the best insecticide. To control soft scales, buy insecticides that contain imidacloprid in them. However, insecticides containing this specific component will not work for other scale infestations. In fact, if you use this insecticide on other infestations, it may increase the population of the cotton cushion.
  • Thus, to control other severe infestations of scale attacks, get insecticides that are manufactured to destroy the infestation of that specific insect.

Attack of Nematodes

This is another very crucial reason why your camellia leaves are turning yellow with brown spots. Specifically, the root-knot nematodes that feed on the roots of camellia affect the leaves as well indirectly.

Moreover, the nematodes create galls and swellings on the plant. These outgrowths do not allow the nutrients and other important elements to transport to different parts of the plant, especially the leaves.

As a result, the leaves become brown in color. generally, nematodes are roundworms that are microscopic in nature. However, you can identify them by digging up the plant root. If you discover galls in them then the presence of the nematodes is confirmed.

Again, the galls can come with an appearance of one meter in diameter. Moreover, the nematodes are responsible for losing plant vigor.

Control Measure

  • For the proper identification of the nematodes, you may have to send the root and soil samples for a laboratory test.
  • To prevent the attack, you need to adopt proper sanitation of the garden, especially around the camellia plant.
  • You can also adopt some cultural practices to ensure a vigorous and healthy plant.
  • If the attack is severe, then you may have to transplant the camellia plant.
  • Again, exchanging the soil with fresh soil can also make a difference in the initial attack.

Soil Alkalinity

Soil matters a lot to growing a healthy flower plant. And speaking of camellia, it reacts significantly when the soil is not suitable.

However, soil pH highly affects nutrient deficiency. Issues with soil acidity are responsible to turn new leaves of camellia brown whereas the old leaves remain dark green in color. Nonetheless, camellias grow best when the soil is slightly acidic and the pH ranges between 5.5 to 6.5.

Too much alkaline soil makes it tougher for the plant to absorb an adequate number of nutrient elements. Hence, a deficiency of nitrogen, iron, and manganese takes place. Consequently, the leaves and their edges appear to be brown.

Control Measure

  • Firstly, you have to measure the soil pH. Thus, take a soil pH meter and measure its alkalinity. (Our Pick: SONKIR Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester Gardening Tool Kit)
  • If the soil is highly alkaline then exchange it with slightly acidic soil. Acid soil helps absorb nutrients like manganese and iron by breaking them down. So, acidic soil makes the minerals available for plant absorption.
  • Again, you can amend alkaline soil by adding elements like iron sulfate, elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, and all.
  • Moreover, to rectify the pH issue, you can just go for the best acidic fertilizer meant specifically for the camellia plant. (our pick: Miracle-Gro Fertilizer for Acid-Loving Plant Food)

Drainage and Watering Issues

The poor drainage system is a common reason for creating several problems for plants. Camellias surely like to be watered on a regular basis. But if their roots stay wet for a longer time then it will discover the leaves also becoming yellow and brown in no time.

This situation takes place if the drainage system is very poor. Moreover, it leads to root rot of camellia. Again, poor drainage invites Phythothora cinamomi. This fungus can turn the entire plant brown and kill it eventually.

Again, as we have already mentioned, camellia likes water. Thus, if watering is not sufficient, then surely the plant will react by wilting and turning brown to black.

Water helps the easy absorption of nutrients. However, it also partly depended on the soil type. If the soil consists of mostly clay then the plant will face a hard time absorbing the nutrients.

Control Measure

  • Ensure proper drainage system. You can improve the system by mixing some sphagnum mosses or sand into the soil.
  • However, to avoid the drainage issue in the first place, make sure to plant your camellias in the right place.
  • If nothing works, then you may adopt the replanting method in another spot that will provide proper drainage.
  • To deal with water issues, make sure that the soil where you have planted the camellias never remains dry. Thus, to test the soil you can apply the two-finger test.
  • Make sure to water in a way that the soil remains wet about 2 to 3 inches down.
  • Again, to hold maximum moisture in the soil, you can mulch the soil with wood chips or a thick layer of pine bark. It also makes the soil acidic which is required by camellia.  


Do Camellias like full sun or shade?

Camellias cannot tolerate direct sunlight. It causes damage to their flowers and leaves by turning them yellow. However, they prefer to filter the sun or partial shade.

Should I water camellias in winter?

Professional gardeners suggest watering camellias regularly before the arrival of first-hand freeze. However, you have to ensure the root zone is saturated enough because only moisture can protect the flower root.

Do camellias lose their leaves in winter?

Being an evergreen flower plant, camellias are not meant to drop leaves in winter. But winter frost and burn can cause severe damage to the leaves and they may drop as well.

Final Words

So, now you know why camellia leaves turn brown. Thus, identify your reasons and act accordingly. Any flower plants require extra attention and care. Camellias are not any exception.

Thus, you have to ensure the proper environment, care, and operations.

Finally, if our information has helped you enough then let us know through your feedback. Also, you can inquire about anything regarding the topic.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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