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Camellias

The most popular camellias grown in garden are sasanquas, which flower from late summer to early winter and japonicas, which flower from winter to early spring.

Camellias are evergreen shrubs grown for their beautiful flowers, which are pink, red or white and may be single or double. Camellias are an excellent choice for evergreen hedges or screens, topiary specimens or as feature plants for winter flowers.

Growing conditions

Aspect Camellias need a lightly shaded to sunny location. Ideally they prefer morning sun with afternoon shade especially in hot climates and will grow under the dappled shade of trees. Sasanqua camellias are more tolerant of full sun than other species.

Soil Camellias grow in a wide range of soils but grow best in a slightly acid soil pH (around 5.5-6) that is ideally deep, moisture retentive. Before planting add home-made compost and organic matter and/or Seasol Super Compost. In areas with alkaline soil, grow camellias in large containers with a Premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.

Climate Although most camellias are subtropical to temperate plants, they grow in all climates. In cold areas, they need protection from cold winds, frosts, and snow. Frosts can damage flowers.

Camellia Flower, Closeup of Red

General care

Watering Adequate and regular watering during bud formation and flowering is important as water stress at these times can lead to loss of flowers however, established camellias are drought tolerant. Water regularly if plants are in hot, dry or exposed conditions or if they are growing in containers.

Feeding and mulching Feed throughout the seasons using a complete fertiliser for flowering plants such as Seasol plus Nutrients Roses & Flowers. Supplement feeding with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers  every 2 to 4 weeks. Plants in containers can be liquid fed every 2 to 4 weeks while they are growing and flowering. Apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES Roses & Flowers or PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives. Regular applications of Seasol also assist drought hardiness and disease resistance.

Mulch camellias well with organic mulch such as lucerne, sugar cane or straw. Also add well-rotted manure to the natural leaf mulch that accumulates under camellias.

Pruning Camellias need little pruning unless they are being grown as hedges or trained as topiaries. Prune after flowering in early spring to avoid reducing flower production. Lower branches on specimen plants can be removed to create an area for planting. Old or unshapely plants can be cut back hard if they need to be rejuvenated however, avoid heavy pruning in summer as the exposed branches can be sunburnt.

Watch for Generally camellias are free of pests and diseases but may be attacked by scale, which can lead to sooty mould forming on leaves. Control pests naturally with EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray.