Landscaping with Camellias
Camellias are an essential ingredient to every Southern landscape. Their sheer size and distinctive evergreen foliage make them the perfect leafy backdrop for a lackluster fall or winter landscape. Camellias can grow anywhere from 6 to 12 feet tall and wide! Despite their large stature, these plants can easily be incorporated into the landscape. They are best used in a wood-land setting, as a privacy screen, or as a state-ly hedge.
Fall and Winter blooming Camellias
Camellia varieties are continually hybridized to create new and exciting cultivars. There are thousands of cultivars to choose from. The cultivar you choose may bloom in late fall, winter, or early spring. Blooms vary from white to pink, red, and blood red. Some cultivars have simple flowers, like ‘Yuletide’, some have double flowers like ‘Setsugeka’, and some have peony-like flowers like ‘Sargent Red’. One thing is for certain: no matter what form the flower is in, they’re always showy against the Camellia’s dark green foliage.
Here’s a much abridged a look at popular Fall and Winter blooming Camellia varieties:
Planting Your Camellia
The best time to plant your Camellia is late fall through early spring, although you can plant this hardy shrub at any time of the year. Planting late fall through early spring gives your new shrub the opportunity to develop roots. This is especially important before the dry season. Not sure how to plant your shrub? Read TSLG’s Guide to Planting Shrubs and Trees.
Caring for Camellias
Camellias are acid loving plants and thrive in Moore County because of this reason. If you’re on a property with alkaline pH, (however unlikely), plant your shrub near other acid loving species, like Azalea, Rhododendron or Ericanthus. Planting these evergreens in a group will only help ensure their survival.
Camellias like full to part shade and fairly moist soil. Make sure to keep the soil moist, not soggy. Just place a layer of mulch, (about three inches deep), around your new planting to improve water retention.
Why doesn’t my Camellia bloom?
Camellias are not particularly drought tolerant, so make sure to keep your Camellia watered during late-summer dry spells. To help these efforts, make sure to mulch around your shrubs. A 3-inch layer of mulch serves to improve water retention around the roots. Excessive fertilization can also lead to little or no blooms. Fertilize Camellia no later than mid-July.
Why are my Camellia's leaves all brown?
Camellia Brown Leaf or Sunscald is a common issue resultant of too much direct sunlight. These shrubs don’t typically recover from sunscald, but if you catch it early enough, you can try saving your Camellia by transplanting it to a shadier space.
My Camellias are budding, but they never blossom.
Freezing temperatures, too little sunlight, and inadequate watering can cause your Camellia to experience what is commonly referred to as Bud Drop. Poor soil acidity may be another reason your flower buds drop before they bloom. Camellias like a soil pH boy 6 to 6.5. Any higher or lower, and the soil acidity may be keeping your shrub from accessing the nutrients it needs in the soil. Seem complicated? Check out TSLG’s Beginners Guide to Soil Science.
Dirr, M. A. (2010). Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses (6th ed.). Champaign, IL: Stipes.
Phipps, N. (2015, May 01). Learn About Common Camellia Problems. Retrieved November 10, 2016, from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/camellia/identifying-and-fixing-problems-with-camellias.htm
The American Camellia Society. (n.d.). Camellia Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 10, 2016, from https://www.americancamellias.com/care-culture-resources/camellia-encyclopedia
The Editors of Garden Design Magazine. (2016, November 10). Camellia Flower Guide: Growing, Pruning & More. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from https://www.gardendesign.com/flowers/camellias.html