January 14th, 2005
Camellias bloom in fall through spring, when few other plants do. Camellias are also one of the few exceptions to the usual rule of not planting when a plant is in bloom. Many varieties are at their peak now, so it’s a good time to buy and plant.
Camellia japonica is the most popular of all the camellias because of its wide variety of colors. With either double or single form 4″ symmetrical flowers and with glossy bright leaves, Camellia japonicas provide color and beauty.
Camellia sasanquas are also very popular. They also have been bred into a variety of flower colors, sizes and shapes.
The japonicas tend to bloom later than the sasanquas but both may be found blooming in January.
This is an ideal shrub to grow in shaded plant groupings, even as close as three feet from house foundations, sidewalks or patios because the roots are not invasive.
Since they tend to spread out as they grow, plant them about 5 feet apart.
Camellias also do well as container plants for those who don’t have much ground space. They make great ‘patio plants’ for this reason.
Make sure the soil pH is 6.0-6.5 and drains well. Camellias do not like ‘wet feet’! Avoid overwatering, and watch out for camellia blight, a fungus that causes buds and flowers to brown and decay. To control this malady, clear away and dispose of any spent flowers and fallen leaves.
Determine the depth to plant. Most rose plants consist of two parts: the rootstock and the flowering canes. The bulge where the parts join is called the graft union. Plant the graft union just at or slightly above the soil surface.
Dig the hole. Keep the roots cool and moist while you dig the planting hole. The hole should be deep enough to set the graft union at the proper depth and at least wide enough to allow the roots to extend without bending. Put the removed soil in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.
Amend the soil. Very sandy or heavy clay soils benefit from the addition of organic material. Mix the soil from the planting hole with 50 percent compost and 50 percent native soil. Partially fill the hole with the soil mix, making a cone or mound in the center to drape the roots over.