The Southern belles of the plant world, camellias come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. These broadleaf evergreen shrubs bear some of the most beautiful blooms during the colder months of the year.
Camellia blooms come in many shades of pink, red, and white. You also get to choose from six types of blooms: single, semi-double, anemone, peony, rose form double, and formal double. Each form features a certain petal arrangement and number of petals. Bloom time varies in camellia shrubs depending on the species. Some bloom in the spring, fall, or even winter in mild climates. Species with small flowers tend to be the fragrant ones because breeding efforts for large formal types have focused on size rather than scent.
Camellia Care Must-Knows
Camellias are fairly easy to grow, requiring many of the same conditions as other broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons and azaleas. In fact, they're often used as a companion plant to rhododendron and azalea. Site camellias in part shade or dappled shade to help them grow best. The soil should be acidic, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. Supplement poor soil with compost. To help drain water away from their trunks, plant camellias so that the top of their root balls are slightly above the soil's surface. During their first year, camellias benefit from supplemental watering during dry spells. After that, they tend to be drought-tolerant. Shelter plants from strong winds, especially in the upper South or near the coast.
You'll want to watch for petal blight in spring. This fungus turns petals brown, then kills the whole flower. The best solution is to remove affected flowers and debris from around the plant, then treat it with a foliar fungicide at least twice a month. Camellia scale (also known as tea scale) is the name for small white to gray insects that affix themselves to the undersides of leaves close to the stem. Though generally not fatal, the insects can weaken the plant. Handpicking the pests can alleviate the problem, but smothering scale and their eggs with horticultural oil may be more effective.