With flowering beginning as early as November and often continuing through until April, it’s easy to appreciate just how much camellias can add to our gardens during the Winter months.
These showy plants first arrived in England in the 1700s, introduced from the gardens of China and Japan where they had been cultivated for centuries. Today, camellias are grown for their beautiful flowers and there are currently around 3,000 cultivars and hybrids. There are a variety of flower forms, including:
Single – flat, bowl or cup-shaped blooms.
Double – rows of overlapping petals.
Peony – a mass of irregular petals with hidden stamens.
Formal double – regular rows of overlapping petals, also with hidden stamens.
Why Choose Camellias?
Perfect for the mixed border, woodland gardens or in patio containers, these shrubs offer great flexibility.
Their beautiful flowers are available through a wide range of varieties in single colour form from white through pink to deep red, and some two-coloured flowering varieties also available.
In addition to this, plants have an attractive, bushy growing habit, ranging in eventual size from 2-4m wide and 2-6m high. They are average to slow-growing though, so it will be years before they out-grow their space, at which point they can easily be pruned.
Their glossy, evergreen foliage ensures year-round interest, and also provide a great canvas against which to contrast different plants which flower throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn.
Planting and Care
In their natural habitat, camellias are woodland plants, so they’ll always grow best in shelter and light shade, although with careful watering they can also be grown in sunny positions.
They prefer free-draining conditions, with plenty of organic matter such as leaf mould, incorporated into the soil at planting time.
Being ericaceous plants, camellias require an acid soil, but don’t worry if you don’t have this, as it’s easy to create the right conditions – click here for our full guide to planting and caring for ericaceous plants.
Camellias have an unfair reputation for dropping buds before they have a chance to flower – but this only occurs when they are planted against east-facing walls. When the buds get frosted in cold weather and then heat up too quickly in early sun, this kills them – so north or west-facing walls, or other positions which do not see early sun are a much better planting option.
Along with other early-flowering shrubs, camellias form their next year’s flower buds in late Summer and Autumn, especially on new growth. Pruning too late could reduce (or even remove!) next year’s potential flowers, so the best time to prune thin, damaged or unwanted branches is immediately after flowering has finished.
Camellias also respond well to hard pruning should you need to reduce or renovate your plants, which should also be carried out after flowering has finished.
So now you know why you should have these plants in your gardens, come and check out the gorgeous range of camellias we have available in-store and make your selection!