The Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group

Three groups of plants – one group of enthusiasts worldwide

Camellia Cultivation

CULTIVATION

Camellias are normally best suited to a woodland position requiring a light, well drained, acid soil with plenty of organic matter, but they will grow on heavy clay based soils, given a well prepared site, and are more tolerant of clay than rhododendrons. Protection from the early morning sun helps to protect the blooms from major frost damage. Camellia sasanqua varieties need considerably more sun to flower successfully, and may be best on a south or west wall.

Camellias grown in containers can be planted outside at any time of the year other than in frosty conditions. The planting hole should about two to three times the width of the container but about the same depth. Mix plenty of organic matter with the soil you have dug out. Plant so that the surface of the root ball will be at the same level as the surrounding soil and water in well. Mulching is a great advantage.

Shelter from strong drying wind is important. It is very important never to allow your plants' compost or soil to dry out in late summer and autumn when flower buds have been set, as this may cause them to drop.

Feeding must only be carried out between April and mid September: never feed camellias from October through to the end of March.

All camellia bushes respond well to an annual pruning, normally just after flowering, but remember that sasanquas will only bloom on the current year's growths.

Deer love camellia foliage, so protect up to five feet with wire netting if deer are a problem in your garden.

Hygiene To guard against Camellia Petal Blight, it is best to clear away and dispose of fallen petals and leaves. They should not be composted.

PROPAGATION

Cuttings Nearly all camellias other than reticulata varieties root easily from half ripe cuttings.