Camellias – A Broadleaf Evergreen Favorite
Camellias are a lovely flowering tree or shrub. To those that grow them, nothing else quite compares. They are loved for their foliage and spectacular blooms. While they don’t grow well in my particular time zone in the Midwest USA, I still enjoy them very much when I can see them. For example, at the botanical garden in my area, they have an indoor area that houses the camellia trees, as well as many other plants like cacti and citrus trees.
Where Camellias Grow
You can find many varieties of camellias growing in the South Atlantic states of the United States, and all along the gulf coast. You can also find them along the Pacific coast. They do not need to be grown indoors in these areas to survive the winters. These camellias can be grown into trees and shrubs, or be kept small.
When Camellias Grow
You can find camellias growing south of zone seven, and blooming during the months of September through April. This always struck me as a strange time to bloom, considering the time of year and when we normally see other flowers blooming. They are a treat in this sense, as they bloom in the “off times” compared to many other flowers. Camellias can bloom early, mid to late with their season, and it just depends on the one you have.
Colors of Camellias
The general colors you will see with camellias are pinks, whites, reds and lavenders. The ones referred to as red are often a deeper coral color, or a deep rich pink color. As for the pinks, you will see many variations as you see in the photos here. Sometimes you can see variations with streaks or spots on them. They are a very beautiful flower, and have many loyal fans.
Moisture and Soil Conditions to Consider for Camellias
If you are going to grow camellias, there are some things to know. The level of moisture is important for them. For instance, camellias need constant moisture, yet their roots can’t remain soggy. This can be a bit of a trick for some gardeners. One ideal situation is to plant them on a slope of some kind, where the water can run off and drain off.
In locations where the soil is considered to be “heavy,” it is a good idea to plant some gravel in the bottom of the hole you dig for your camellia bush. This allows the roots to be up and out of the sitting water, which can just keep the gravel or small stones wet instead. I have lived in areas with high clay content, and the water can sit in such a hole. This would be a perfect solution.
Soil Conditions for Your Camellia
Make sure to use a good planting mixture for camellias when planting your camellia. Follow the instructions that come with your plant. Or, you can use a mixture that includes one third humus, one third acid soil, and one third manure (from a barnyard, for example), or a commercial fertilizer designed for camellias.
You will want to fertilize your camellias after they bloom, and then again in June or July.
Color Retention and Watering for Camellias
Watering your camellia is critical for its health, and the best time is once a week throughout the summer and into early fall. It is recommended that you get the leaves wet or sprayed down during hot weather.
One way to keep a camellia cool is to mulch the soil around it. This helps to retain its moisture as well.
To help with retaining color, some shade or dappled shade helps with that. Depending on your location, it is good to protect your camellia from direct midday or afternoon sun, if possible. These are good ideas to remember at the time of planting, as it can save a lot of problems down the road.
Camellia Japonica – ‘California’ – Theaceae
I loved the varieties I showed here, that I was able to capture with my camera. This is just a small sampling however, of the many different camellias out there to enjoy. They are a truly enjoyable plant and flower to own. If you have the benefit of having a place to grow camellias indoors, then that is wonderful.