It’s easy to understand the appeal of camellias – they bloom profusely in autumn and winter and they’re evergreen with glossy green foliage, so the plants look good all year round. There are hundreds of different camellia hybrids available, with some of the main types including Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica and Camellia reticulata.
When choosing a camellia plant, it may help to keep the following in mind:
- C. sasanqua is the most sun-tolerant of the camellia varieties. It can also be very successfully trimmed into a hedge or topiary.
- C. japonica offers the best range of colours, flower shapes and sizes.
- C. reticulata is the fastest growing camellia variety.
As a rule, camellias like well-draining, loamy soil that is slightly acidic. They generally fare best if planted in dappled shade. Before planting, water your camellia plant well. This will help to reduce planting shock. Dig a hole about twice as wide and one and a half times as high as the root ball of your camellia plant. Place the plant inside the hole, along with compost and well-rotted manure. Make sure that you don’t plant your camellia too deeply. After planting, the top of the root ball should be level with the top of the soil. It’s always a good idea to stake young plants, especially if you are planting just before the windy winter weather begins.
Wait until after your camellia has flowered before feeding, otherwise the plant will produce new leaves at the expense of flowers. Feed with a liquid fertiliser all around the drip line of the plant (not next to the trunk of the plant as this can cause it to burn). After feeding, mulch the plant well with a layer of pine needles.