Camellias are most preferred garden plants, well-known for their specular blooms. Native to Eastern and Southern Asia, this perennial shrub bears dark green leaves and colorful showy blooms. In short, these plants are grown both for their foliage as well as flowers. The beautiful camellia flowers are in singles or doubles, and are white in color or in shades of yellow, pink, and red. Some of the newly developed cultivars even have multicolored or variegated blooms.
Camellia plants are quite hardy in USDA zones 5-6. Nevertheless, you can plant them in other areas provided that they are protected from heavy frost. Other than regulating optimum temperature range, caring for these plants requires less effort. You can maintain them indoors or in your outdoor garden, and enjoy their lovely blooms in winter. Discussed below are some of the gardening tips helpful for growing healthy camellias.
Several cultivars of camellia are sold commercially for plantation in flower gardens. Selecting the types that suit the prevailing climatic conditions in your area is imperative to avoid future headaches of maintaining these plants. While purchasing plantlets or stem cuttings, check the flower color and shape as well. Last but not the least, they should be healthy, disease resistant, and mature with a well-established root system.
Slightly acidic and loamy soil, with a rich concentration of organic matter, is required for planting camellia. Prepare potting soil or garden soil to meet these requirements. It grows best in partial shade or in areas that receive filtered sunlight. So, for growing it as a houseplant, you can select places near the doors or windows. Growing camellia in such spots also reduces quick drying of the soil.
While transplanting camellia in garden soil or containers (for indoors), make sure that you do not disturb the root ball or injure the roots. Dig a hole in the soil that is big enough to hold the root ball. Gently place the plantlets in the hole and cover the roots with soil. Press slightly with your fingers around the base of the plants to remove air pockets. Follow the same for growing other plantlets. Deep water your newly planted camellias.
Warm temperatures, similar to that of subtropical climatic conditions, are ideal for optimal growth and flowering of camellia plants. They cannot tolerate very cold or very hot environmental conditions. If the temperatures drop down to 15°F or lower, the flowers will get damaged. Accordingly, you should cover the shrubs with plastic sheets for protection from damaging frosts. Another important tip to be noted is fertilization at least once in every two months.
Maintaining these plants also includes examining the signs of disease and pest infestations, before it becomes too late to control them. The common pests that affect these plants are aphids, ants, and spider mites. Pruning them in winter and removing weak parts helps control diseases to some extent. You can thin out internal twigs and allow proper light penetration to healthy branches, which in turn promotes development of larger blooms.
Camellia belongs to the same family as tea plants. The beauty of this flower has been honored by declaring it as the state flower of Alabama in 1959. Exact blooming period of this plant differs with reference to the particular species and the growing conditions provided to it. Most of the cultivars develop flowers in cool weather conditions. Whichever variety of camellia you have opted for, growing them is fun and relaxing and you get to enjoy attractive blooms in cold months.