Camellias are among the most beautiful flower shrubs thanks to their magnificent blooming season, either in fall or in spring.
Core Camellia facts
Name – Camellia
Family – Theaceae
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 cultivar
It is recommended to plant camellias preferably in fall to ease root development and allow for better blooming the following year.
Planting camellia in the spring from 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. For example, the magnificent Camellia sasanqua.
How to correctly plant camellia
Camellias can do well in neutral soil but will always do best in acid soil.
They like sun but must be protected from scorching. Part sun is often the best compromise.
- 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.
Advice on caring for potted camellia
Potted camellia are a great way to decorate balconies and terraces, and also serve as a visual protection thanks to their evergreen leaves.
Growing camellia in pots
This is perfectly possible and camellias adapt very well to growing in pots. It is a perfect solution for those who have a terrace or a large balcony and who love camellias.
Even more so than when planted in the ground, potted camellias fear scorching sun and will appreciate light shade.
- 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 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.
Repotting a camellia
Camellias can stay 2 or 3 years in the same pot, but it will have to be changed after that to give the plant the space it needs to grow.
- Re-potting takes place every 2 or 3 years.
- Prepare a pot that is slightly larger than the previous one.
- Fill in the new space with heath.
If the pot grows too large or heavy for regular repotting, an option is to go for topdressing.
Pruning and caring for camellia
Once settled in, the only care a camellia requires is watering in case of high temperatures and, optionally, pruning.
Nonetheless, if you wish to balance the shape or reduce the size of your camellia, wait for blooming to be over.
Certain camellias are parts of a hedge, or are potted, and these must be pruned.
Take note that the flowering season of camellias can be in fall, winter, or spring depending on the variety.
It is important to know which season applies to your camellia, so that you don’t cut the branches just before that.
Watering and fertilizing camellia
Camellias are heather plants, and like most heather plants they like cool, moist, and rather acid soils.
Regular but light watering is recommended if the soil surface dries out. This generally happens from May to August.
As for fertilizer, you can add heath plant fertilizer or camellia fertilizer in spring or fall.
Also, remember that pine bark mulch applied all year round can retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and as it breaks down increases soil acidity for camellias.
Diseases and parasites that attack camellia
Camellias are rather sturdy and resist most diseases well. They may occasionally be attacked by scale insects or aphids.
Camellia leaves turn yellow or lose their color
This is often due to poor soil, and/or an excess of calcium in the soil. This is called chlorosis.
- Regular watering and adding heath fertilizer is usually enough to counter this situation.
A layer of brown-black dust, similar to soot, appears on the leaves
This problem, called sooty mold, is often a secondary effect of other diseases or parasites such as scale insects. This fungus grows on honeydew that scale insects or aphids deposit on the leaves.
- Here is how to fight sooty mold on camellia
- Learn more about how to fight aphids on camellia
- Getting rid of scale insects
Learn more about camellia
Originally found in Asia, its silhouette is defined as a bushy shrub, and its alternating leaves are leathery and oval-shaped.
- There are hundreds of species, but the most famous is the Japanese Camellia (Camellia Japonica).
- They are usually planted as shrubs clumped together because they decorate the garden with brightly colored spots. They are also found stand-alone or in the middle of a flowered hedge.
- This shrub is perfect for balconies and terraces, since they hold well in pots or garden boxes for their entire life cycle.
Smart tip about camellia
Mulching keeps weeds from growing, protects against the cold, and enriches the soil with natural nutrients.
- Maritime pine bark is excellent for heather plants because it improves soil acidity.
- If you increase soil acidity around your camellia, flowering will increase in quantity and quality.
Lastly, although camellias don’t like scorching sun, they also don’t like overly shaded venues.
- Camellia, flowers at the heart of winter
- Camellia sasanqua, a fairy garden at the end of fall
- Setting up a flowered hedge
Camellia on social media
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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Blooming Camellia flower by Manseok Kim under Pixabay license
Tall camellia shrub by Insil Lee under Pixabay license
Spiral camellia by Claire Wu under Pixabay license
Red camellia flower (on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work