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How to grow & care for camellias

Camellias are glossy evergreens that are simple to grow. They work well with containers. Early in spring and summer, their showy white, pink, and red flowers appear.

Camellia japonica Pink Perfection
Camellia japonica Pink Perfection

Where to plant

The best time to plant camellias is in the fall, when the soil is still warm, to help the roots grow before winter sets in. Camellia sasanqua, on the other hand, will tolerate positions with more sunlight than the majority of cultivars. Acidic soil is ideal for camellias. In a compost that does not contain any peat, you can grow camellias in containers. Gardeners who work with alkaline soil will appreciate this choice. Plant camellias in a protected position, away from cold breezes and early morning sun.

How to plant Camellias

Consider something like 3-5 meters around each plant. They will be medium-sized to large plants when they reach maturity. The RHS hardiness rating for camellias is generally H5, but the camellia sasanqua is slightly more delicate (H4) and may require winter protection from freezing winds or cold winters. Digging over the area to be planted and first removing any necessary weeds will prepare the area.

How to care for camellias

When they are first planted, give your camellias regular water, and keep them watered all summer long because this is when the flowers start to grow. Check the soil with a trowel about 10 centimeters down to ensure that it remains moist. At this level, if it feels dry, water thoroughly. If you live in a region with hard water, a rainbutt is preferable to using tap water for extended periods of time to water.

In the early spring, feed your camellias with an acidic fertiliser. Follow the packet’s dilution rates. Camellias should not be fed after the end of July because excessive feeding in the late summer can cause bud drop.

When the flowers on your camellias begin to wither, deadhead them. Since spent flowers can turn brown and be unsightly, this keeps the plant looking new. However, you can do it if you have time because it does not significantly increase flowering for the following spring.

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Updated on April 12, 2023

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