Growing camellias in pots

Container Grown Camellias

Camellia Soil Mixes for Landscape & Containers
By Bradford King
The ideal soil for camellias is well drained and acid. Camellias prefer a well-drained soil that is high in humus and slightly acid. A pH of 7 or less is acceptable but 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal. The use of coarse peat moss or oak leaf mold provides humus and the acid condition. When either is mixed in equal parts with “sharp” or “potting” sand, a loose, well drained quality mix is obtained. Fine peat moss frequently found in garden centers is not recommended. It easily becomes too wet or too dry; both conditions lead to loss of camellias.
LANDSCAPING
When planting a camellia in the ground, determine your soil conditions. A simple test is wetting the soil and then grasping a handful of it. If it remains loose and formless, it is sandy. If it forms a one or two inch ribbon, it is loamy. If it forms a two inch or more firm ribbon, it is clay.
If your garden soil is sandy, add oak leaf mold or coarse peat and small pine bark in equal parts in a hole dug twice the size of the root ball. If the soil is loamy, it has acceptable conditions. However, adding equal parts sand and humus to the soil will provide optimal growing conditions. When the garden soil is clay or adobe, remove as much of it as possible, add in equal parts sand, medium-sized pine bark and humus (coarse peat moss or oak leaf mold). This will make the soil well drained, acidic and rich in humus.
The pine bark decomposes slowly, keeping the mix loose for a longer period of time. As it decomposes, the bark does remove some nitrogen. However, it is a sound trade off to keep the soil loose and to fertilize with either cotton seed meal or a camellia/azalea commercial fertilizer once or twice a year.
Do not fertilize the first year you put a camellia in the ground. Camellia roots need to breathe. Soggy wet soil and dry, hard-packed soil destroy roots. In other words, camellias thrive in moist, not wet or dry, conditions. Therefore, add ingredients to your garden soil to get the optimal balance for your conditions.
CONTAINERS
Camellias thrive in pots but require special care for them to grow and flower. Camellias in containers require repotting or potting up every two or three years. The soil becomes depleted, soggy and heavy after three years.
Containers-1 Potting up is useful when a plant outgrows its container. For example, a camellia doing well in a one-gallon pot should be potted up to a three-gallon pot after two years and so on until the plant reaches the size the grower desires. Once the optimal size is reached, the camellia is repotted every two or three years, in the same size container. When repotting, roots are trimmed an inch or two with a knife then put back in its container with fresh potting King June-August 2008 30 mix. While the same principles as with a camellia in the ground are followed, more careful attention is required.
First, the container must have an adequate drainage holes because camellias can’t tolerate wet feet. The bottom layer of the pot can be gravel, broken crock, coarse wire mesh, etc. I prefer two or three inches of coarse pine bark.
Second is the potting mix. Do not use ordinary garden soil because it gets too hard and its humus is depleted quickly. The most convenient method is to use a ready made commercial camellia/azalea mix from your local garden center. However, many growers make their own mix.
My current mix is equal parts small pine bark, sand, oak leaf mold (or coarse peat moss) and a high quality commercial camellia mix. The commercial mix has “composted fir bark, sphagnum peat moss, mushroom compost, volcanic pumice stone, earthworm castings, bat guano, kelp meal, feather meal, gypsum and a natural wetting agent yucca shidigera sponen.” The percentages are not listed for this product. I would assume percentages can change and that various commercial mixes will have different ingredients.
Third, a camellia in a container will require fertilization. The easiest solution is to purchase a commercial camellia/azalea fertilizer using it as directed on the label. These products are to be used only during the growing season—April through September. Never feed a dry plant and be careful not to over feed, especially during hot weather (over 90ºF).
A popular alternative is to use cotton seed meal during the growing season. It is organic and much less likely to burn the plant. A successful alternative is to use four parts cotton seed meal to one part iron. This will keep the foliage green and flower colors vibrant, especially the reds. Notice how much nitrogen is combined with the iron. An N=2 or 3 is optimal and one over 10 can be dangerous as it is combined with the nitrogen in the cotton seed meal for a total exceeding 15.
A fourth method is to use a liquid fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants which can be applied with a watering can or foliage spray during the growing season. The best example is Miracle-Gro for azalea, camellias and rhododendrons. Please note that Miracle- Gro contains a high level of nitrogen – nitrogen 30, phosphate 10 and potassium 10 and all the iron and trace elements needed for healthy camellias. Therefore, I recommend cutting the manufacture’s amount in half, especially for small plants and non-reticulata hybrids. Several application in two week intervals works well.
Do not use fertilizers when temperatures are above 90ºF or you may burn the camellia leaves. During the rest of the summer growing season, I use cotton seed meal every 45 days. During the dormant season from October through February when buds are developing and blooms appear, a 2-10-10 fertilizer is applied.
Containers-2
A number of other growers begin the growing season with an application of fish emulsion, followed by four parts cotton seed meal, one part iron and one part blood meal every 45 days during the growing season and 2-10-10 during the dormant season every 45 days.
Fourth, camellia seedlings grown in pots require fertilizing once the seed has been absorbed. Cotton seed meal is acceptable but the commercial dry fertilizers may be too strong for “babies.” I prefer a liquid starter fertilizer applied every two weeks during the growing season which is cut in half during the dormant season. The objective is to keep the nitrogen level low (N=2 and never above 3) during dormancy. This is the period for bud and flower development in camellias so some phosphate and potash is desirable.
Finally, take time to enjoy your flowers. Blooms may be cut and used to decorate your home. A collection of blooms floating in a shallow bow makes an attractive center piece. A single bloom with leaves in a small vase is attractive addition wherever you wish a touch of color. A container plant may be move to a patio or window to better show its flowers as long as it is outdoors and has shade.

Camellia grower

A bee nose dives into the center of a camellia growing on the land owned by Paul Heurkamp of Pearl River on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

(Photo by Chris Granger, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Are you tired of looking at the withered foliage of your tropical plants? Is your yard mostly shades of tan, brown and chocolate right now? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a plant with glossy, green foliage producing large, colorful flowers in the middle of winter? If so, I’ve got just the plant for you: camellias (Camellia japonica).

There are many camellia cultivars that produce extraordinarily beautiful flowers, ranging in size from a couple of inches up to 6 or 7 inches across. Colors range from pure white to all shades of pink to the deepest red and even variegated more than one color. Local nurseries should have a good selection now, and this is the perfect time to plant them.

Camellias are almost indispensable in the Southern landscape. Plant them into a well-prepared spot where the soil has been generously amended with organic matter. (Gardeners south of Lake Pontchartrain should also consider adding copperas or sulfur during bed preparation to acidify the soil.) Choose a well-drained location that receives part sun to part shade and watch how they brighten up your winter and early spring landscape.

Camellias in containers

Many gardeners have never considered using camellias as a container plant. As beautiful as they are in the ground, camellias adapt happily to life in containers and are particularly impressive grown that way. They look great flanking entryways, on decks, patios and porches and other outdoor living areas. Another species of camellia, the fall-blooming sasanquas (Camellia sasanqua), also look great in containers.

Now, I don’t mean to belabor a point, but how many of you have containers filled with lush tropical plants that had to be dragged into the garage for recent freezes or were left outside and now look like a pot of brown mush? Since camellias are hardy, they do not have to be coddled during freezes. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Choosing a container

The type of pot you choose is as much a matter of taste as what is best for the camellias. Black plastic pots from the nursery work fine but look a bit too utilitarian for most landscapes. Decorative plastic, terra cotta, fiberglass, glazed pottery and wood all make suitable containers, although termites and rot make wood a questionable choice.

Whatever container you choose, make sure the drainage holes are adequate to allow excess water to drain after watering the plant. Like most shrubs, camellias cannot tolerate wet feet. A layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot is of little benefit to improving drainage.

Eventually, a camellia will require a container about 2 feet wide and deep as it reaches maturity. This takes a number of years, however, and it is best to grow camellias in smaller pots appropriate to their size, gradually shifting them to larger containers as they outgrow the one they are in.

The camellia is not one of those plants that suffers the minute it gets a bit pot bound, but you shouldn’t allow it to remain in that state for more than a year or the growth will be stunted and flowers few. When repotting, shift the plant into a new pot only a few inches or one size larger. Planting into an excessively large pot is visually out of proportion with the size of the plant and creates a situation where over watering and root rot are more likely to occur.

Use potting soil

Drainage also is affected by the potting mix you use. Do not use garden soil. Instead, choose fast-draining soil mixes specifically blended for use in containers called potting soils or potting mixes.

Experienced gardeners should feel free to amend commercial potting soil mixes with sifted compost, finely ground composted pine bark or other materials to create a satisfactory mix. Most mixes are just fine used as is.

When repotting your camellia (or when planting into a bed), do not plant it any deeper than it was growing in its original container. This is very important; covering the surface roots with as little as a couple of inches of soil can be detrimental to the health of the plant. Also make sure you leave “head space” in the container; the level of the soil should be an inch or two lower than the rim of the pot to facilitate watering.

General care

Water regularly, maybe even daily, during hot summer weather. Camellias are likely to drop their flower buds if you allow them to become too dry before watering. Water thoroughly until you see water coming out of the drainage holes.

Apply a soluble fertilizer for acid-loving plants once or twice a month during the spring and summer. To save time and effort, you could simply use a slow-release fertilizer applied once in the spring.

Once your camellia is planted into its final large pot, it will spend the rest of its life in that size container. To keep the plant vigorous, every two or three years, lay the pot on its side and remove the root ball of the camellia from the container. Trim off 1 or 2 inches from around the sides and about one-quarter of the root ball from the bottom. Add enough fresh potting mix to the bottom of the original container equal to the amount of root ball removed. Replace the plant, add new soil around the sides, water thoroughly, and you’re all done. This task is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth appears.

When you think about replacing some of those frozen container tropicals, don’t forget the outstandingly beautiful — and hardy — camellia.

Camellia show

On Saturday, Jan. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Camellia Club of New Orleans will hold its 77th show and sale at the Theodore Roosevelt Middle School Gym, 3315 Maine Ave., Kenner. Plant sales begin at 9 a.m. From 8 to 10:30 a.m., any camellia growers can enter blooms to be judged in the Novice Class. Club members will be on hand to assist with arranging them for presentation.

The show opens to the public from noon to 4 p.m., when all the blooms and awards can be seen. Admission is free to the public, and you can bring camellias from your yard to get them identified. For additional information, contact Andy Houdek at 985.285.0478 or Nick Piazza at 504.616.4378

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

How to Grow Camellias

Camellias are long-lived trees and shrubs that provide year-round glossy-green foliage and cool-season flowers. Cultivars of Camellia japonica (Japonicas) and Camellia sasanqua (Sasanquas) are the most commonly grown types of camellias. There are hybrids as well (look for an “X” in the plant name), created by crossing cultivars to achieve different colors, shapes, or desirable characteristics such as cold hardiness or unusual growth habits. While they’ll do fine if left alone, camellias will truly thrive when provided with appropriate growing conditions, timed pruning and fertilizing, and good garden hygiene.

Selecting the right variety

When selecting camellias for the garden start by looking at bloom time; Sasanquas bloom from mid fall to early winter (early to mid season), Japonicas from mid winter to spring (mid to late season) and hybrids can be either depending on variety. Select plants with different flowering schedules to enjoy blooms for an extended period.

Consider where you’re planning to plant the camellia. Subtle differences in growth habit, bloom size, and bloom color between cultivars means there’s probably a camellia that will perfectly slot into your garden design like a missing puzzle piece. If the camellia will grow near a door or sidewalk you frequent, think about planting a fragrant variety such as Fairy Blush. It’s also good for small gardens, as it matures to 4-5 feet in height and width. Marge Miller™ has an unusual trailing form, making it well-suited for container gardens or planting where it can cascade over a wall. Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishi Gashira’ is a popular multi-use cultivar. It has bright pink blooms with a cluster of prominent yellow stamens and a somewhat spreading form that can easily be trained as a tall groundcover or an espalier. Fast-growing, tall camellia varieties are ideal for hedging or screens, and can be planted as understory trees to add interest in the middle layer of the lands.

Optimal Conditions

  • Zone: Most camellia varieties are hardy in zones 7-10, but some, such as the Monrovia Ice Angels® series, are hardy to zone 6.
  • Soil: Camellias need slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5-6.5); they don’t grow well in soils with a high pH and will exhibit signs of stress, including yellowing leaves, if the soil is alkaline.
  • Moisture: Camellias do not tolerate wet feet; it’s essential that you site them in an area with well-drained soil.
  • Light: In general, camellias grow and bloom better in partial shade (morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal conditions) with shelter from hot afternoon sun. This is especially true for young plants, which thrive under the shade of tall trees or when grown on the north side of a house. As they grow larger and their thick canopy of leaves shades and cools their roots, they gradually will accept more sun. Shade provided in winter helps reduce cold damage for camellias growing in zones 6 and 7.

Planting

Timing is critical when planting camellias. Gardeners in warm areas (zones 8-10) can plant in the fall, winter, or spring. In zones 6 and 7 spring is a better time for planting so that the shrubs have the chance to establish a solid root system before cold weather.

To plant, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the rootball and just as deep. Then backfill the bottom two to three inches of the hole and pack it down. Remove the plant from the container and place it in the center of the hole. The top of the rootball should be 2-4 inches above grade. Camellias do not grow well when planted too deep and, in fact, are more sensitive than other plants, so this is an important detail to follow. Fill in around the plant, gently sloping the soil up the sides of the exposed rootball. Do not cover the tops of the rootball. Mulch around the plant, with just a thin layer (1 inch) over the top of the root ball. Water at the time of planting.

Watering

As with other broadleafed shrubs, camellias need to be watered when newly planted or during times of extreme drought. Established plants (over 3 years old, vigorous, and shading their own roots) get by with little supplemental water. If you do water them, make sure the soil is well drained.

Fertilizing

Feed with an acid-forming azalea or camellia fertilizer in spring, after the flowers have dropped; fertilize again in the midsummer if growth seems sluggish or foliage looks sparse and begins to lose its deep green color (take care to water the plants the day before feeding in summer). Select a fertilizer specifically blended for camellias or azaleas. Apply at the rate recommended on the label. Don’t overdo it, as plants grown in fertile soil need little fertilizer―and never feed plants that are sick or distressed. Do not fertilize after August, as the plants will be entering a period of dormancy. Fertilizer could cause unwanted growth without enough time to harden off before cold weather.

Pruning

Prune after blooming has ended. Remove dead or weak wood; thin out growth when it is so dense that flowers have no room to open properly. Shorten lower branches to encourage upright growth; cut back top growth to make lanky shrubs bushier. When pruning, cut just above a scar that marks the end of the previous year’s growth (often a slightly thickened, somewhat rough area where bark texture and color change slightly). Making your cuts just above this point usually forces three or four dominant buds into growth.

Spoilers

  • Tea scale: This is the most common form of scale to affect camellias. Insects feed on the undersides of the leaves, which results in chlorosis (yellowing) of the tops of the leaves. The best way to deal with this pest is to prune and open up the canopy, promoting good airflow. It can also be controlled through application of horticultural oil. Consult your local nursery for advice.
  • Dieback: This is the sudden death of the tips of branches. It’s caused by a fungus, and the only treatment is to remove the dead branches by pruning six inches below the dead area. Disinfect pruners with rubbing alcohol between cuts and throw branches in the trash—do not compost.
  • Camellia petal blight: Flowers with brown spots or brown tips that aren’t caused by frost damage are a sign of petal blight. Control this disease problem by regularly removing dropped flowers and leaves from under the plants, removing and discarding any existing mulch and adding a layer of fresh mulch to the area under the infected tree.
  • Yellow leaves: This is usually indicative of an iron deficiency. Test the soil pH and adjust it if its over 6.5. You may need to feed with iron supplements.
  • Camellia leaf gall: Causes leaves to become distorted, pale, thick, and fleshy; they gradually turn white, then brown, then drop from the plant. The best control is to pick up and destroy affected leaves before they turn white.
  • Bud drop: To some extent, this is natural for all camellias (many set more buds than they can open), but it also may be caused by overwatering, summer drought, or sudden freezes.

Growing Camellias in Containers

Camellias are outstanding container plants whether you grow them outdoors on a terrace or indoors in a cool greenhouse. As a general rule, plant gallon-size camellias in 12- to 14-in.-diameter containers, 5-gallon ones in 16- to 18-in. containers. Fill the container with a potting mix containing 50 percent or more organic material. Make sure the container has a generous drainage hole.

Camellia Planting Guide

  • Theaceae
  • Evergreen shrubs or trees
  • US (milder parts, protected), MS, LS, CS 10-7
  • Light shade
  • Moderate to regular water

The South is the heart of camellia country. Indeed, common camellia (Camellia japonica) is Alabama’s state flower. Although it seems these beautiful plants must have been born here, in truth they hail from eastern and southern Asia. More than 3,000 named kinds of camellias exist, in a remarkable range of colors, forms, and sizes; they are not browsed by deer.

Establishing new plants. Spring or fall planting is fine for most areas. Spring is better in the Upper South, where the root system needs time to get established before onset of cold weather. Mulch thoroughly to keep roots cool and the soil moist. Regular watering is critical during the first year. Water thoroughly to moisten the entire root ball; then let the top of the root ball go slightly dry before the next watering.

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Exposure and watering. In general, camellias grow and bloom better in partial shade, with shelter from hot afternoon sun. This is especially true for young plants, which thrive under the shade of tall trees or when grown on the north side of a house. As they grow larger and their thick canopy of leaves shades and cools their roots, they gradually will accept more sun. Shade provided in winter reduces cold damage in the Upper South.

Established plants (over 3 years old, vigorous, and shading their own roots) get by with little supplemental water. If you do water them, make sure the soil is well drained. Shelter them from strong winds, particularly in the Upper South or near the coast. They do not tolerate salt spray.

Fertilizing. Feed with an acid-forming azalea or camellia fertilizer in spring, after the flowers have dropped; fertilize again in the midsummer if growth seems sluggish or foliage looks sparse and begins to lose its deep green color. Apply at the rate recommended on the label. Don’t overdo it, as plants grown in fertile soil need little fertilizer―and never feed plants that are sick or distressed.

Camellia problems. Scorched or yellowed areas in the center of leaves usually indicate a sunburn. Burnt leaf edges, excessive leaf drop, or corky leaf spots generally point to overfertilizing. Chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins) results from planting in neutral or alkaline soil; to correct, feed plant with chelated iron and amend soil with sphagnum peat moss and/or garden sulfur to adjust the pH.

Tea scale is a common pest. These pests look like tiny brown or white specks on leaf undersides; sooty mold grows on the honeydew they secrete. Infested leaves turn yellow and drop. To treat tea scale, apply horticultural oil or a systemic insecticide such as acephate (Orthene) or dimethoate (Cygon), following label instructions.

Two fungal diseases are common. Camellia petal blight causes flowers to turn brown rapidly, then drop. Sanitation is the best control: pick up and destroy all fallen blossoms as well as infected ones still on the plant. Remove and discard any existing mulch, then replace it with a 4- to 5-in. layer of fresh mulch. Camellia leaf gall causes leaves to become distorted, pale, thick, and fleshy; they gradually turn white, then brown, then drop from the plant. The best control is to pick up and destroy affected leaves before they turn white.

Bud drop is a frequent complaint. To some extent, this is natural for all camellias (many set more buds than they can open), but it also may be caused by overwatering, summer drought, or sudden freezes.

Pruning. Prune after blooming has ended. Remove dead or weak wood; thin out growth when it is so dense that flowers have no room to open properly. Shorten lower branches to encourage upright growth; cut back top growth to make lanky shrubs bushier. When pruning, cut just above a scar that marks the end of the previous year’s growth (often a slightly thickened, somewhat rough area where bark texture and color change slightly). Making your cuts just above this point usually forces three or four dominant buds into growth.

Camellias in containers. Camellias are outstanding container plants whether you grow them outdoors on a terrace or indoors in a cool greenhouse. As a general rule, plant gallon-size camellias in 12- to 14-in.-diameter containers, 5-gallon ones in 16- to 18-in. containers. Fill the container with a potting mix containing 50 percent or more organic material. Make sure the container has a generous drainage hole.

Hardy Hybrids. If you live in the Upper or Tropical South and have problems growing camellias, take heart: you can now enjoy hybrids that flourish in the extremes of weather found in both regions.

A number of species, most notably the C. oleifera, produce hybrids that withstand temperatures as low as -15°F with little or no damage provided they have some shelter from winter sun and wind. Selections include ‘Polar Ice’ and ‘Snow Flurry’, with white anemone-form blossoms; ‘Winter’s Charm’, pink peony form; ‘Winter’s Dream’, semidouble pink blooms; ‘Winter’s Fire,’ with semidouble to peony-form, hot pink flowers in midwinter; ‘Winter’s Star’, lavender-pink single blooms; ‘Winter’s Waterlily’, white winter double. C. japonica also has an April series of hardy camellias, named for the time they typically bloom in the cooler, northern part of their range. These include ‘April Blush’, ‘April Dawn’, ‘April Remembered’, ‘April Rose’, ‘April Snow’, and ‘April Tryst’.

These japonicas perform well in the Tropical South as far as Fort Myers and West Palm Beach in Florida: ‘Alba Plena’, ‘Debutante’, ‘Gigantea’, ‘Lady Clare’, ‘Mathotiana’, ‘Professor Charles S. Sargent’, and ‘Red Giant’. You can even try them in Miami, though you’ll have to grow them in pots because of the alkaline soil there.

The lovely waxen blooms of the camellia have for years been the symbol of southern elegance. Alabama has even chosen it for their state flower. Camellias have a reputation for being somewhat difficult to grow, but if you’re willing to meet their needs, they’ll reward you with a long bloom season just when you need it most, between fall and spring.

There’s a lot to know about growing this beautiful ornamental shrub. The tips here will get you started. For more information, visit the website of the International Camellia Society (internationalcamellia.org)

About Camellias

Though they’re strongly associated with the southern U.S., camellias are actually native to southeast Asia. They’re part of a large genus (Camellia), whose most famous member is one that’s regularly dunked in teacups around the world. C. sinensis flowers may be insignificant, but the leaves are grown and harvested to make tea of all kinds.

The beloved flowering varieties are more common in gardens. Most are either forms of C. japonica or C. sasanqua, or a hybridized variety. It’s important to know the species type, since C. sasanqua blooms in mid-fall to early winter, while C. japonica flowers from mid-winter through early spring. Hybrids can fall into either category, so be sure to read up on the plant information before buying.

Both species have been cultivated into many hundreds of varieties, offering a huge array of flower colors and types, growth habits, fragrances, and more. There are choices to suit nearly any garden. Bear in mind that camellias are not particularly hardy, and can’t withstand very cold winters. In zones 7 – 10, they can be grown outdoors. In colder climates, try growing them in containers that can be moved outdoors in summer, then move them into the house to enjoy their blooms in the fall and winter months.

Light

All camellias need some protection from the hot afternoon sun as young plants. However, plants that receive no sun will struggle to flower. Morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal. As the plants grow older, their own heavy foliage will provide protection from the sun for the roots.

Soil

Camellias require two important characteristics in their soil: slightly acidic and well-drained. Before planting, test the soil to determine its pH. Camellias grow best in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5; high pH levels will cause stress and yellowing leaves. If your soil is too alkaline, you can either amend it regularly with an acidic fertilizer, or try growing camellias in pots so you can easily control the soil pH.

It’s also important to ensure that the area you choose has well-drained soil, because camellias hate wet feet. Avoid spots in your garden that are regularly soggy. Not sure if your soil drains well? Dig a hole about 12 inches wide and deep, and fill it with water. If it drains in 10 minutes or so, your soil is fast-draining and should work well for these flowering beauties.

Water

Speaking of water, camellias (like most plants) need plenty of it when they’re young and establishing root systems. Because rain water is naturally slightly acidic, it’s perfect for watering in new shrubs. Tap water is an adequate substitute, but since regular application may change the acidity of the soil depending on your water quality, test the soil regularly in the beginning. After they’re established, camellias rarely need supplemental watering.

Planting

Camellias are a little picker about how they’re planted than most. If they’re planted too deeply or mulched too heavily, the stems can rot and kill the plant. Dig the planting hole the same depth as the root ball, then add a few inches of soil back into the hole to slightly decrease the depth. When you set the plant down into the hole, the top of the root ball should be slightly above the level of the surrounding dirt. Fill in the hole, sloping the fill dirt up to the top of the root ball without covering it. Mulch lightly, no more than about an inch.

In most areas, it’s best to plant camellias in the spring so they have a long warm season to establish themselves. In warm-winter climates, they can be added to the garden anytime, though it’s wise to avoid the hottest months of summer.

Pruning

When to prune is based on what type of camellia you have. Sasanquas bloom in late fall, and start to set buds the spring before. Prune them immediately after flowering ends in early winter. Japonicas flower later, and can also be pruned just after their bloom season ends. Hybrids may flower at either time, so simply prune when the flowers are done.

Love flowering shrubs? See our top 10 favorites here.

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