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Jeremy Kichler is a County Extension Coordinator in Colquitt County representing the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. His email is jkichler@uga.edu. His phone number is 616-7455.

As a new county Extension agent, starting in Colquitt County on March 1st I have gotten a lot of questions.  Let’s discuss some of the more common ones that I have gotten over the last week.

When do I prune camellias?

Pruning questions can be confusing. A lot of times, homeowners seldom have to prune camellias, but there are times we run into situations such as overgrown plants, scale infestations, and disease.  So there are situations where we can benefit from pruning.

If you would like to tackle the overgrown plants, then prune them in late winter. In southern Georgia, prune in late February to mid-March. Cut the plants back to 12 to 18 inches above ground, removing most limbs and all foliage. Plants cut back higher (2 to 2½ feet above ground) usually fail to fill out near the ground and are not as attractive as those pruned closer to the ground. Sprouts will emerge from the trunk six to eight weeks after late winter pruning. These develop into vigorous shoots reaching 2 to 3 feet tall by midsummer.  New shoots usually are crowded and can be thinned in early to midsummer to encourage proper branching. Pinch them off as soon as they become 10 to 12 inches long to promote additional branching.

If you would like to thin or prune lightly then consider when the camellias bloom. Some camellias bloom during the fall, some during the winter and some during the spring. If pruning is needed, it’s best to prune the fall and winter bloomers in early March and the spring bloomers just after they bloom.

Should my diseased plants be composted?

A very common question is whether pathogens present on diseased plants can be destroyed through composting. The answer most often is no. Simply maintaining a debris pile on the backyard will not effectively destroy plant pathogens. Unless a gardener is “hot” composting, that is, turning the compost pile often and keeping it moist, most pathogens are not killed. If a compost pile reaches temperatures of 110 to 160 degrees, however, most disease causing organisms should be killed.

Colquitt County 4-H is selling tomato plants to help send 4-H’ers to camp.

This is a yearly fund raiser benefiting the Colquitt County 4-H camping program. These plants are tolerant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus … besides being the best tasting around! You can purchase your plants at the County Extension Office located in the Ag Complex Building on Veterans Parkway.  Plants are $1 each or you can buy a flat for $35. Each flat contains approximately 100 plants. Help a deserving “4-H’er” have a great experience at 4-H Summer Camp and enjoy delicious tomatoes, too!

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