Camellia Japonica: Gorgeous Blooms In Late Fall, Winter, Or Early Spring
Camellia japonica or Japanese camellia blooms when few other plants do. Bloom time is in late fall, winter, or early spring. The Camellia japonica has beautiful glossy leaves, dense foliage, and large blooms from late winter through early spring.
There are hundreds of cultivars, and bloom color ranges from white to pale pink to dark red; blooms are either single or double blooms. Some flowers are up to five inches in diameter. Camellias are hardy in Zones 7 and 8; some cultivars can be grown in Zone 6 under ideal conditions. Camellia japonica is normally hardy to 10°F, but sudden changes in temperature can damage the foliage or kill open flower buds. When you are selecting a place to plant you need to keep this in mind. There are many new cultivars that have exceptional winter hardiness so a little research will expand your options.
How To Make Your Camellia Japonica Thrive
Camellias grow best in partial shade; they do not like early morning, or late afternoon sun. As a general rule red blooming cultivars are more sun tolerant then white or pink flowering cultivars. In the winter camellias need protection from direct sun and drying winds. A planting site under tall pine trees, on the north, or west side of a building is best. Plants grown in full sun will typically exhibit some leaf scorch.
Camellias grow best in a loose, well-drained soil that is on the acidic side; a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 is recommended. Late fall to early spring is the best time to plant camellias. Space plants according to their mature size. Most cultivars will spread 6 to 8 feet in diameter. Some cultivars are more upright.
Camellias are shallow rooted: they do not like it when their feet remain wet. Select a site that is well drained, or plant in raised beds or mounds. Camellias must have good soil aeration or they will die from drowning or root rot. Incorporate a 2 to 3 inch layer of organic matter such as pine bark before planting. With the possible exception of super phosphate (0-46-0), no fertilizer should be used at planting. Many gardeners over-fertilize their camellias.
General Camellia Japonica Information
Pests And Diseases
You should be watching for aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale. Yellow leaves with green veins may mean too little acidity in the soil. Some flower bud dropping may be natural, but some may the result of over watering, more by under watering, especially during summer or periods of low humidity.
Limit pruning to removing dead or damaged wood, unproductive branches, and disproportionately long shoots. Prune right after flowering or during early summer to stimulate branching. Pruning later in the year can remove flower buds.
Camellias can be propagated from semi-ripe cuttings, hardwood cuttings, as well as layering. Growing from seed is also an option, but seedlings will not usually come true to the parent type.
Camellias can be used as foundation plantings, in borders, as hedges, and as specimen plants. Camellias are often used as anchoring plants; their large size and dark green foliage provide structure, balance, and height to an overall garden design.
- Common Name: Camellia
- Type: Broadleaf evergreen
- Hardiness Zone: Zones 7 to 9
- Height: 7 to 12 feet (Under ideal conditions they can grow much taller)
- Width: 5 to 10 feet (Under ideal conditions they can grow much wider)
- Bloom Time: Late fall, winter, or early spring
- Bloom Description: White, pink, red, yellow, and lavender
- Light: Part shade
- Water: Medium
- Maintenance: Medium
Cultivars & Varieties
Following is a list of Camellia japonica varieties that are old standbys. The listing specifies bloom season and flower size. The earliest types start blooming in November, while late varieties still have flowers in May. Very large flowers are over 5 inches in diameter, large are 4 inches, medium are 3 inches, small are 2 inches or less across.
- ‘Adolphe Audusson’ – Midseason; very large; red.
- ‘Betty Sheffield Supreme’ – Late; large; red.
- ‘Berenice Boddy’ – Midseason; medium; light pink.
- ‘Daikagura’ – Early-late; large; rose-red.
- ‘Debutante’ – Early-midseason; medium-large, pink.
- ‘Desire’ – Midseason; medium large; pale pink.
- ‘Kramer’s Supreme’ – Midseason; very large; red.
- ‘Kumasaka’ – Midseason-late; medium-large; pink.
- ‘Lady Clare’ – Midseason-late; large; dark pink; above-average cold hardiness.
- ‘Magnoliaeflora’ – Midseason; medium; pale-pink.
- ‘Mathotiana’ – Midseason-late; very large; crimson.
- ‘Guilio Nuccio’ – Midseason; very large; rose.
- ‘Nuccio’s Gem’ – Midseason; medium-large, white.
- ‘Pink Perfection’ – Early; large; pink.
- ‘R.L. Wheeler’ – Late; large; red.
- ‘Rev. John G. Drayton’ – Late; semi-double; carmine-rose.
Google – Camellia Japonica Photos
Flickr – Camellia Japonica Photos