Fayetteville Camellia Club

Bigger And Better Camellias


 

No matter how lovely a camellia is in its naturally occurring state, someone is always going to want a bloom to grow bigger and more beautiful. One way to force a specific blossom to be larger is to remove all other buds on that stem.  This allows the plant to put all its energy into the one remaining bloom.  With all that attention, how could it fail?

 

For those who want an even more dramatic result, there is gibberellic ("jibberELLic") acid, and the process known as gibbing ("jibbing").  Most plants produce small quantities of the growth-regulating chemicals known as gibberellins, and treatment with larger quantities does not seem to affect their blooming habits.  With camellias, however, gibbing produces larger, sometimes more intensely colorful blooms, and can also influence when the blooms themselves appear.

 

The gibbing process is easy.  There are two types of buds on a camellia plant:  a growth bud (also called leaf bud or vegetative bud) and a flower bud.  The growth buds are slim and pointy; the flower buds are rounded.  Select a growth bud next to a nice, plump flower bud.  Twist the growth bud until it comes away from the plant, leaving a little "cup" where it was attached.  Put a drop of gibberellic acid into the cup, and that's it.  Treat each bud just once.

 

Treat only up to about 20 per cent of the buds on a single plant.  Treat different buds at different times so that you'll have a continuous stream of treated flowers.  Treat only a few buds on young plants.  Gibberellic acid breaks dormancy on a treated bud and encourages growth, but there is no way to accurately predict when the bud will bloom.  This can differ from plant to plant.  A little experimentation and basic record keeping will show you when to gib for the desired effect.  Go to the American Camellia Society website for a video demonstrating gibbing.


Gibberellic acid usually comes in powdered form, to be mixed with water.  If you cannot find it locally, it is available online from a number of different sources.