Camellia

Camellia
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Camellia japonica 'Lila Naff'
Credit: Robert Cardillo
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Camellia japonica 'Lila Naff'

Camellia

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.

genus name
  • Camellia
light
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
height
  • 8 to 20 feet
width
  • Up to 20 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
propagation

Colorful Combinations

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.

More Varieties of Camellia

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Camellia japonica 'Granada' with red blooms
Credit: Marilyn Ott

'Granada' Camellia

This variety of Camellia japonica produces semidouble to peony-shape deep red flowers in midspring. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Alexander Hunter' with red blooms
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'Alexander Hunter' Camellia

Camellia japonica is an upright shrub with sweeping branches bearing single or semidouble, deep red blooms in early and midspring. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Helen's Ballerina' with white blooms
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'Helen's Ballerina' Camellia

Camellia japonica has a vigorous, open habit and produces large double, pale peachy-pink blooms late in the season. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Julia Drayton' with pink blooms
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'Julia Drayton' Camellia

This upright shrub of Camellia japonica bears double and semidouble crimson purple-tinged flowers in mid- and late spring. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Miss Universe' with white blooms
Credit: David Goldberg

'Miss Universe' Camellia

Camellia japonica 'Miss Universe' is a prizewinner worthy of the name, producing large double white flowers on a shrub that grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Lila Naff'
Credit: Robert Cardillo

'Lila Naff' Camellia

This variety of Camellia japonica bears soft, silvery pink blooms in mid- to late spring on a shrub that is slow growing and upright. It grows 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Kramer's Supreme' with pink blooms
Credit: Cynthia Haynes

'Kramer's Supreme' Camellia

Camellia japonica produces double, big, bountiful blooms of rose-red in late fall and again in late spring. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia japonica 'Elegans' with pink blooms
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'Elegans' Camellia

Anemone-shape rose-pink blooms make this variety of Camellia japonica stand out with summer color. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

bright red camellia 'coquettii' blossom
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Coquettii' Camellia

This variety of Camellia japonica is a slow-growing selection that bears deep red blooms, sometime double, in mid- to late spring. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Camellia sinensis macrophylla 'Yellow Tea'
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Tea Plant

Camellia sinensis, commonly called tea plant, is the species of camellia that is used to make one of the world's most popular drinks. Small, white to pink single blooms are borne in fall. Zones 6-9

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