Camellia Care and Growing Instructions.
The camellia is a blooming evergreen shrub that has dark, glossy leaves and enormous, luxuriant flowers that occur for many weeks at some point between the months of autumn and early spring in warmer places of the world.
This is a highly popular plant that is used by gardeners in zones 7 to 9 in a manner that is quite comparable to the manner in which northern gardeners utilize peonies.
Peonies and camellias both have lavishly petaled flowers, and both have the propensity to outlast the people who care for them.
Camellias may be started from container-grown nursery plants and planted practically any time of the year, with the exception of the warmest months of summer. They are slow-growing plants, yet they have an extraordinarily long lifespan.
Camellias do best when grown in soil that is both rich and wet, and in a place that receives some shade. When planting many camellia plants, be sure to provide at least 5 feet of distance between each one. They do not appreciate being in close proximity to trees since it forces them to compete for water and nutrients.
They should be planted at a depth that is just slightly deeper than surface level, leaving the very tip of the crown slightly visible. It is important to be aware of the mature size of your camellia before planting it next to a window or the foundation of your house.
At the time of planting, there is no need to modify the soil that was used for backfill; rather, you should rake compost or manure that has had sufficient time to decompose into the top few inches of the soil.
Camellia is a low-maintenance plant that simply has to be pruned to remove any dead branches when grown in optimal circumstances.
On the other hand, some gardeners may discover that they are subject to a wide range of pest and bug problems. These issues are especially severe for shrubs that have been neglected or are in poor condition.
Camellias grow best in places that get either partial shade or sites that receive dappled sunshine throughout the day, such as in the understory behind tall airy trees. Camellia sasanqua cultivars may handle more sun than japonica varieties.
Camellias can only thrive in well-drained soil, and the optimal pH range for camellia soil is between 6.0 and 6.5, which is considered to be somewhat acidic.
Instead of planting in the ground, you could try your luck in containers if the clay in your soil prevents water from draining away.
Camellias need steady moisture, so be sure to water them regularly. When there is a lack of moisture during the bud development stage, the plant will produce fewer flowers that have a reduced total number of petals. Plants that are under the stress of drought are also more likely to be infested by spider mites.
A healthy watering plan includes providing a total of 1 inch of water per week, which is distributed between waterings that occur twice each week.
Applying a layer of mulch with a thickness of three inches c
an help reduce soil temperature, keep soil moisture in, and prevent the growth of weeds.
Both the Temperature and the Humidity
Camellias are known to be hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9, however it is recommended that you plant them in zones 7 through 9 for the best chance of success.
By giving careful consideration to the location in the garden where camellias will spend the winter, gardeners who live in areas with colder temperatures may improve the odds that their plants will last the winter.
Planting in a cooler northern location offers an advantage over planting in a warmer southern area.
There is a risk that the plant may emerge from dormancy too soon in southern areas, which might result in the blossoms being destroyed by frost. Gardeners in frigid climates have the greatest chance of success when they choose a location that faces north and also incorporates a structure, hedge, or fence that serves as a windbreak.
The ideal way to fertilize camellias is to use a slow-release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, such as 12-4-8 or 16-4-8, and to do so in three separate applications: once in the early spring, once in the late spring, and once in the middle of the summer.
After August, you should refrain from feeding your plant since the new growth it encourages may be susceptible to harm if exposed to freezing temperatures. 1
A fertilizer that is formulated specifically for camellias or azaleas may provide the acidity that camellias need for optimal growth.
Varieties of Camellias
Camellias are native to the Philippines, but the genus was named after Brother Josef Kamel, a Moravian Jesuit priest who was a botanist, chemist, and missionary who categorized species in the Philippines. Camellias are native to the Philippines.
The Camellia genus is a member of the Theaceae (tea) plant family and has well over one hundred different species.
But almost all of the garden camellias, of which there are hundreds of various varieties, are cultivars created from the C. japonica (also known as the Japanese camellia) or the C. sasanqua species (sansaqua camellia). C. sinensis, a third common species, is often cultivated not as an attractive plant but rather for the manufacturing of tea. Additional species often contribute genetic material to hybrids in various cases.
Some popular garden kinds include:
“April Dawn” is a cultivar that has white blooms with pink streaks across them and grows reliably hardy in zone 6.
This variety, known as the “Elfin Rose,” has flowers that are a very light pink color and bloom during the months of October and November.
This species, known as ‘Fragrant Pink,’ produces clusters of dainty, rose-colored flowers that exude a pleasantly sweet scent, which is particularly noticeable when the weather is mild in the winter.
“Francis Eugene Phillips” is a well-known cultivar that is characterized by very attractive fringed leaves as well as ruffled pink blooms.
This plant is known as ‘Yuletide,’ and it is a dwarf shrub that grows to a height of only four feet.
Camellia hybrids, often denoted as Camellia x williamsii, are a type of camellias that is rapidly expanding. These are cultivars that came forth as a result of crossing the C. japonica with the C. saluenensis species. Camellias of this kind are often frost-resistant all the way up to zone 6, making them among the hardiest of the species. Among the most well-known hybrid camellias are:
“Anticipation” is a hybrid that has enormous rose-pink flowers that blooms from October all the way through May. It has the potential to reach a height of 15 feet and is a huge shrub.
‘China Clay’ is a hybrid that has white blooms that are 4 inches in diameter and bloom from January till March. This tall shrub may reach a height of 15 feet.
‘Les Jury’ is a hybrid that has deep red blooms and is a more compact shrub, reaching a maximum height of around 6 feet. The flowers may be seen from January through March.
“Elegant Beauty” is a hybrid that may grow up to 8 feet tall and has exceptionally beautiful rose-pink blooms from January till March.
Camellia April Dawn
Because excessive pruning might distort the natural form of camellia shrubs, only a minimal amount of trimming should be done on these plants. After the flowers have faded, the camellia should be pruned to remove any dead or unproductive branches from the heart of the shrub. Get rid of any branches that are resting on the ground.
It is also important to remove any branches that exhibit symptoms of blight or any other fungal infections.
Although camellias may be grown from seeds, the process of growing them into full plants can take a very long time. It is more likely for it to spread via layers. How to accomplish it is as follows:
During the summer, you should nick an angle into a long stem that you have bent all the way down to the ground.
The injured part may be buried in the ground by looping the stem into the earth and then using a boulder or a wire that is very rigid to keep it in place in the ground.
Following the passage of a whole growing season, the cut made in the buried stem ought to give rise to the development of an extensive root network. At this stage, you may cut it away from the parent plant and then dig out the children to relocate them to another location.
How to Start a Camellia Plant From Seed
The vast majority of camellias grown in gardens are hybrids, and it is quite unlikely that seeds harvested from these plants would produce true-to-type plants. However, you may experiment with seed propagation.
The timing of when camellia seeds become mature might vary from variation to variety and from location to location, although it often occurs in the early part of autumn.
When the seeds are ready to be harvested, the pod will start to split apart ever so little, and the seeds will be in the ready state.
If you have seeds, you may help the germination process by soaking the seeds for twelve hours or cracking the hard coat gently. Plant in healthy soil, peat moss, or a mixture of peat moss and sand, if possible.
Keep the soil at a moist level. When planted immediately after harvesting, seeds have an average germination time of one month. It’s possible that some seeds won’t sprout until the spring. When seeds are sown as soon as they have ripened, germination rates are likely to be higher.
The Act of Planting and Repotting Camellias
A good number of camellias are huge shrubs that have deep taproots and do not suit themselves well to growing in containers. However, smaller varieties are frequently cultivated as potted plants in big, broad, and heavy pots that are filled with a strong moisture-retentive potting mix.
These containers may be found in several nurseries. If you cut off the taproot of a plant that was grown in a pot at a nursery and then transplant it into a container on your patio, the plant will produce a root system that is both broader and more fibrous.
If you put a few inches of pebbles or bark at the bottom of the container, it will help the pot drain more effectively.
Camellias grown in containers are strong feeders, and as a result, the potting mix in their containers will be depleted with time.
As a result, you should repot them about every three years. Remove one or two inches’ worth of the plant’s roots, then repot it into a bigger container with more new potting mix.
Camellias are evergreen shrubs that produce flowers in the wintertime in southern regions where the winters are not very harsh. If you reside in a colder region and your camellia plant is contained inside a container, you will need to take precautions to prevent the soil and root systems from being completely frozen.
It is possible to make an effective insulation out of dry leaves and pine straw if you pile it up around and on top of the container, completely covering both the soil and the container.
Keep the pot covered until spring if you live in a zone 7 or below environment; otherwise, uncover it when the weather warms up. Protect the plant by erecting a burlap or canvas fence all the way around it if you are anticipating really low temperatures or a lengthy cold spell. Put leaves all over the empty area.
Insects and diseases that often affect plants
Weak shrubs are more likely to be subject to a demoralizingly high number of different illnesses and insects. Horticultural oils, such as neem oil, are the most effective way to control a wide variety of pests, including aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and mites.
Camellias are also susceptible to a wide variety of fungal diseases, some of which include different leaf spots, black mold, blossom blight, canker, anthracnose, and root rot. Petal blight is a fairly frequent illness that causes the petals to wither and shrivel when they are just about to open.
Even though early application of fungicide may sometimes prevent issues from occurring, when fungal infections do arise, it is necessary to cut away damaged plant portions in order to stop the spread of the illness.
How to Bring the Camellia to Full Bloom
The blooming season for camellias varies from cultivar to cultivar, although most bloom for many weeks throughout the period that extends from late autumn to early spring.
It is quite upsetting when these plants do not bloom as anticipated because of the high value placed on their flowers and the length of time that they bloom for. In most cases, the inability to flower may be traced back to one of these causes:
Incorrect pruning: If you prune your tree too late in the season, you run the risk of removing the flower buds that will produce flowers in the winter and spring.
If you are going to prune them at all, you should do so as soon as the blooms have faded. This will provide enough time for the new wood to grow, which is what produces the flowers for the next season.
Damage caused by cold to flower buds An unseasonable frost that comes at the same time as flower buds are forming may kill the buds and prevent or significantly diminish the amount of blossoming that will occur during that season.
On the other hand, the plant will often recuperate beautifully and return to its normal bloom pattern for the next growing season.
Insufficiency of nutrients A plant that is grown in soil that is deficient in nutrients will not blossom well unless it is given an appropriate supply of fertilizer. This normally calls for three feedings during the course of the growth season.
An excess of fertilizer might encourage camellias to concentrate on green growth rather than bloom production, which can be detrimental to the plant. If the soil is already fairly rich and heavy in organic material, adding an excessive amount of extra fertilizer may actually produce a reduction in the amount of blooming.
Because camellias are acid-loving plants, growing them in alkaline soil might cause them to be sterile and prevent them from producing flowers. If you are growing these plants in alkaline circumstances, you may need to add some acidifying fertilizer to the soil or amend the soil with some acid.
Camellias can survive in light shade, but if they are planted in deep shadow, they may not blossom as often. Camellias can withstand little shade.
Camellia bushes like constantly wet soil; if they are subjected to dry circumstances, they may withhold blossoms in an effort to save their energy reserves.
The Most Frequent Problems With Camellia
Camellia bushes are often not too difficult to care for if they are given enough amounts of water and fertilizer, as well as if they are planted in soil that drains well and receives adequate sunshine.
On the other hand, in addition to the problems with vermin and illness that were discussed before, you could see the following cultural symptoms:
Leaves That Are Golden In Color, With Green Veins
This symptom is an indication of chlorosis, which is a disease produced by soil that is excessively alkaline. Chlorosis hinders the plant from taking up the nutrients it requires from the soil, which leads to chlorosis. You may be able to lower the pH of the soil (make it more acidic) by adding agricultural sulfur to the soil or by feeding the plants with an acidifying fertilizer that is specifically developed for azaleas and camellias.
The plant’s leaves become yellow, and it wilts.
This is a typical sign of root rot, which may result in the death of a plant very rapidly or over a period of many years.
There is no treatment for fungal root rot other than to remove the plant from the soil to stop the illness from spreading to other plants. When buying new shrubs, it is important to check them thoroughly to ensure that they are healthy.
Root rot is most frequent in soils that are thick and have poor drainage; thus, before replanting, it is a good idea to amend the soil with a substantial amount of organic matter to enhance its porosity.
Edges of Burnt-up Leaves
This is often an indication of chemical burn, which is brought on by excessive application of fertilizer. The next meal should be skipped to determine whether this helps the symptoms go away.
What kinds of uses may camellias have in the garden?
Camellias are often used in the formation of shrub borders, backdrops, and loose hedges. Camellias are a luxurious addition to winter wedding flower arrangements and, according to the language of flowers, they signify fidelity and longevity.
Camellias are sometimes employed as espalier examples, which involves training the shrubs to grow in a flat pattern against a wall or fence.
How long do Camellia bushes typically live?
There is evidence that some camellias are over 500 years old, and it is not uncommon for these plants to live to be at least a century old. Camellias have been grown as ornamental garden plants for at least a thousand years now.
I was wondering if there were any particular cultivars that were more suited for growing in pots.
Although it is theoretically feasible to cultivate enormous camellias of 15 feet in height in extremely large pots that are intended for permanent placement, smaller cultivars are typically the best option.
‘Kramer’s Supreme,’ a cultivar of C. japonica that can grow up to 8 feet tall and is resistant to cold, ‘October Magic,’ a cultivar of C. sasanqua that only grows up to approximately 3 feet tall, and ‘Shi Shi Gashira,’ a type of C. sanqua that can grow up to 6 feet tall are all excellent choices.