Camellia, flowers at the heart of winter

Camellia is another winter-blooming shrub and certain cultivars will drape themselves with their most beautiful gems in the heart of winter.

A summary of key Camellia facts

NameCamellia
FamilyTheaceae
Type – flower shrub

Height – 3 to 16 feet (1 to 5 m)
Exposure – full sun, part sun, shade
Soil – light, well-drained

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – November to May, depending on the variety

The bright color of its leaves marks a stark contrast to the sometimes jaded color of the winter sky.

Planting winter camellia

It is recommended to plant camellia preferably in fall to ease root development and allow for better blooming the following year.

  • Planting in the spring of plants purchased in containers is perfectly possible but they will require regular watering at the beginning.
  • Species that bloom in fall or winter run no risk in being planted until spring.
  • Favor a location that will protect it from the sun in summer, but, if possible, is sunny in winter.

Winter camellia upon planting

  • Mix one part heather, one part soil mix and one part garden soil
  • Water abundantly
  • Add mulch in winter to protect roots.

Camellias will need regular watering during the first 2 to 3 years, especially if temperatures are high, in order to permit root development in the ground.

Potted winter-blooming camellia

Do you wish to have flowers in winter on your deck, balcony or terrace? Camellia is then the ideal shrub for you because on the one hand, growing pots suits it well, and on the other, it blooms in winter.

  • Choose a good-sized pot with drainage holes.
  • Place at the bottom of it a bed of gravel or clay beads to ensure drainage.
  • It is important that water doesn’t stagnate near the roots, this could kill your camellia.
  • Fill the pot with a mix of heath and horticultural or planting soil mix.
  • Watering must be regular in case of high temperatures, but never drenching the soil. The goal is to keep the soil mix moist.

Pruning and caring for winter-blooming camellia

White snow on white camellia flowers in a black night.Its slow growth means that it doesn’t need any pruning and maintenance is reduced.

Nonetheless, if you wish to balance the shape or reduce the size of your camellia, wait for blooming to be over.

Certain camellias are part of a hedge, or are potted, and these must be pruned.

Take note that since this camellia will bloom in winter, you must wait for the flowers to fall off before pruning your shrub.

Since camellia loves rather cool soil, you’ll have to water in case of prolonged dry spells or heat waves.

Lastly, thick pine bark mulch is the ideal solution to retain moisture in the ground in summer, protect it from from freezing in winter, and avoid weed growth.

How to choose your winter camellia

Red camellia blooming in the cold.Don’t get mixed up when purchasing your camellia because the blooming seasons can spread over several months, but not all will bloom in winter.

To choose your winter camellia well, the main varieties can be grouped depending on their blooming.

  • Very early flowering – from September up to the first frost spells.
  • Early flowering – from November up to Christmas.
  • Mid-season blooming – at the end of winter and depending on the area, February or March.
  • Late Flowering – spring.

Thus, if you want flowers around Christmas, you might plant Japanese Camellia ‘Gloire de Nantes’ or if slightly later, the ‘Duchesse de Caze’.

Note that the ‘Gloire de Nantes’ can bloom for an uninterrupted 6 months.

Smart tip about winter camellia

Winter is over and this early spring yellow camellia blooms.Mulching with maritime pine bark keeps weeds from growing, protects against the cold, and enriches the soil with natural nutrients.

It is also excellent for heather plants because it improves soil acidity.

If you increase soil acidity around your camellia, flowering will increase in quantity and quality.

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Red camellia and leaf shared by rjcox under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
White camellia and snow shared by wakanmuri under © CC BY 2.0
Camellia twigs shared by kimjinsoon under © CC0 1.0
Winter’s end camellia shared by Lydia89 under © CC0 1.0

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