I am surrounded!
By Camellias that is. My porch has tall Camellia bushes in front & both sides. And, I drink tea all day…
Did you know Camellia Sinensis is the tea plant?
Suffice to say my life is full of Camellias these days. So I wanted to learn more about them. I did and I am sharing what I learned with you.
Camellias – a landscape shrub
Like many landscape shrubs there are thousands of cultivated varieties & hybrids of the Camellia plant.
However, there are only two main species you will most likely encounter.
These two are:
Camellia Japonica – blooms in winter or early spring. Large leaves. Partial sun to dappled shade. Most common variety.
- Camellia Sasanqua – blooms in fall. Smaller leaves & flowers. Can tolerate full sun. Hardier, more drought tolerant & disease resistant than Japonica.
Camellia flowers start as a tight bud. Each unfurls to reveal white, pink, deep pink, red, yellow or variegated petals. I have white, pink & pink variegated in my current garden. The blossoms can be single, semi-double or double.
All types of Camellias have the following general characteristics:
- grow to 6 – 15 feet tall and 5 – 7 wide
- growth is slow, dense & upright
- evergreen glossy leaves
- rose like blooms with woody stems
Camellias are excellent anchor plants in the back of the garden or as privacy hedges along a property line. They give structure & balance to your garden design.
Camellias grow best under these conditions:
- semi-shade to dappled sun
- well drained acidic soil
- moderate water after established
Like most garden shrubbery Camellias can be trained to be more drought tolerant than they are naturally disposed to be.
Read here on how you can easily train a such a plant to be less dependent on water.
Camellia planting/pruning tips:
- Plant Camellias crown high to help with drainage. This means setting the plant in the hole with the top of the dirt ball/root line above the soil.
- Avoid planting near shallow rooted trees such as Birch or Maple as Camellias are shallow rooted too. Plant in the shade of pine trees for best results.
- Fertilize sparingly – after bloom make a circle at the drip line of a balanced fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants.
- Prune Japonica after blooms fade.
- Prune Sasanqua in very early spring before flower buds form.
- A light shaping and pinching tips will encourage fullness.
My favorite hand pruners are by Felco.
I have both common varieties of Camellias in my new garden. As you can see in some of the photos my Camellias have lots of buds. However, the leaves are also blotchy and the overall shrubs are leggy – not dense throughout.
I believe my Camellias to have been the victims of top off pruning. A bad practice in general, but certainly for these plants and a favorite of mine, boxwoods.
I am so excited to get out in this garden and make it my own. So many ideas & plans swirling through my head. I will be sharing all of it with you.
First things first the soil needs to be amended. Then I’ll decide what to do about the Camellias.
Do you have Camellias in your garden?
** Kelly **