Where to grow camellias

The Camellia is a semi-shade loving evergreen plant.   If planted in full sun, the foliage can scorch or become yellow.   The north or east side of a wall or garden, or under trees is satisfactory, when protection is given from the hot mid-day sun.   It is also a good position as camellia flowers can be damaged by frost during the night, but because the sun does not reach the north or east-side until late morning, any moisture on the flowers will have evaporated before the sun reaches the flowers and scorches them.

Camellias must have good draining, a cool, moist condition for the roots and should have a neutral to slightly acid soil.   Peat or leaf mould can be added to make the soil acid.

How to plant camellias

IT IS VITAL WHEN PLANTING THAT THE PLANT IS NOT PLANTED TOO DEEPLY.   Because the camellia has a shallow root system, it should be planted virtually on the surface and no deeper than it was when in its pot.   Many plants are killed by planting too deep.   A can or stake tied to the plant will make it secure from winds until the roots get established.   Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of not planting too deeply – this is a frequent cause of trouble and death of the plant.

After planting it is advisable to water it in and keep it watered during dry spells.   During late summer and autumn make sure the plant is not dry as this is the time of year when the following year's flower buds are being produced.   If the plant is too dry at this time, the flower buds will not develop properly and will drop off.

Feeding

A foliar feed of Maxicrop is beneficial if a plant is not growing well, and if the leaves are showing signs of yellowing, then a feed of iron sequestrines is recommended.   In areas of the country which have alkaline or chalky soil, then it is best to plant camellias in pots or tubs and use ericaceous compost [ordinary compost but with no lime added].   If, after several years, a plant is not producing any flowers, then it is worth feeding it with a high potash fertiliser.

Pruning

Camellias can be pruned after flowering.   If the plant is too big for an area, then it can be pruned severely.   However, there will be little or no flower the following year and it may be a couple of years before it starts to produce flowers.   A better method is to prune part of the plant one year and the other part the following year.   This way not only does the plant get pruned but it still produces some flower.

Hardiness

Most camellias are hardy enough to be grown throughout Britain, however, the williamsii hybrids, eg: DONATION, INSPIRATION, ST. EWE, BRIGADOON and the japonica varieties ADOLPHE AUDUSSON and MERCURY, do well in Scotland.

Pests

If greenfly or blackfly attack the plants, spray with Malathion as the sticky secretion caused by these insects is responsible for the unsightly sooty mould often seen on leaves.

Other information

Recent breeding work on camellias is involved in producing a yellow flowered form.   Now, the nearest to a yellow camellia are the varieties BRUSHFIELDS YELLOW, JURIES YELLOW AND GWENETH MOREY.   All three have white outer petals with a yellow centre.   Other work involved producing scented varieties, the best now being SCENTSATION.

The flowers are classified as follows:

 Single   one row of petals 
 Semi-double two rows of petals
 Anemone form one or more rows of large petals and a central mass of petaloids and stamens
 Paeony form convex mass of petals, stamens and petaloids
 Rose form double incurved petals with stamens in centre, looking like a rose
 Formal double  many rows of petals with no stamens
   
   

Camellias make excellent plants to grow in conservatories or cold greenhouses. With the protection these structures give, the flowers are unharmed by frost, wind or rain, and with the extra warmth, the flowers are much bigger and better.During the summer months the plants can be moved outside if grown in pots or tubs.