Tea Plants, like all other camellias, like to be moist but not wet. They do not need to be dry, and they especially do not need to be wet. Tea is more sensitive to very wet conditions than most other species of camellias, and Tea Plants can’t survive if the conditions are very wet.
The easiest and most common way to kill Tea plants is to keep them too wet. Whether the Tea Plants are in the ground or in containers, if the soil retains too much water, your Tea Plants are going to die and die quickly. We can’t emphasize this fact enough. Tea likes to be moist at all times, but the excessive water needs to be able to drain away from the root system immediately.
Tea Plants grow on the side of mountains and hills in many parts of the world. Think of rain on the side of a mountain. If the soil contains good organic material, moister from the rain will be retained in the soil, while the excessive rain water runs of the mountain side. This is the ideal condition for growing Tea, but most of us don’t have mountains sides for planting Tea.
A good rule to follow is to always plant Tea in the ground on raised plantings. If you build up the soil into a small slightly raised hill with good organic material added to the soil, you can plant your Tea Plants on the top of these raised plantings. This will insure that the excessive water always runs away from the roots. At the same time, the organic components of the soil will retain constant moisture for your plants.
The problem with too wet soils for Tea is even more dangerous if you put your Tea Plants in containers or pots. Many people kill their Tea plants by planting them in the wrong planting soil in containers. There are many great potting soils sold today at garden centers including nationally advertised brands that are great for most plants. The problem is that most of these commercial potting soils have too much peat most in the soil for Tea Plants. This excessive peat moss holds too much water and the Tea Plants stay to wet. When this happens, the Tea Plants placed in these containers in this type of soil will die quickly. Don’t kill your Tea Plant. Always think about good drainage whether your Tea is growing in a container or in the ground.
I have the best job in the world…I get to walk out of my back door and across the yard to a greenhouse and nursery full of Camellias and do what I love every day. Sometimes, when it’s very hot or very cold or when problems arise I do question my career path, but I always come back to the same place….I’m where I’m supposed to be!