Camellias prove their worth in so many ways. Their round, evergreen form provides texture and structure, and they bloom in colors from pure white to pink and blood red. As a bonus, depending on the species, camellias bloom from fall to spring, meaning you can have flowers in an otherwise barren winter landscape. Camellias can suffer from several fungal diseases. Leaf gall is one of the easiest to remedy.
Camellia leaf gall, Exobasidium camelliae, is an airborne fungus thriving in shady and damp locations. Spores are dispersed in the air and often carried by splashing rain or overhead watering. Leaf gall rarely does severe damage and is often considered merely a cosmetic problem.
New leaf shoots become thick and fleshy with leaf gall. Leaf color often becomes light green, pink, white, or a mottled combination. As the gall matures, it ruptures, revealing whitish spores underneath the leaves. Affected leaves dry up and become brown or black before falling off.
Because camellias and leaf gall both thrive in shady, humid conditions, leaf gall is almost inevitable in areas where this environment exists. Overhead watering of camellias causes excessive moisture on leaves and splashes spores from leaf to leaf, spreading the disease.
Pull affected leaves off trees as soon as they appear in the spring and cut back severely affected branches. Removing encroaching branches from other plants and thinning camellia branches improves air circulation. There is no recommended chemical treatment for leaf gall.
Plant camellias where they get morning and afternoon sun as well as good air circulation to keep leaves as dry as possible. Always water at ground level--not overhead--to avoid distributing spores. Never leave affected leaves or branches on the ground or place them on the compost pile. Bag all fallen camellia leaves, petals, buds and twigs and set them out for collection. This will ward off the spread of leaf gall and other camellia diseases throughout the garden.