How to Grow Camellia Sinensis


Popular Asian teas like black tea, green tea and oolong are made from the Camellia sinensis shrub. Its leaves are known for their high antioxidant properties when prepared as a tea product. Whether you plan to grow your own tea for consumption or simply enjoy the ornamental qualities of the C. sinensis' glossy leaves and white flowers, provide the shrub with the growing environment it needs to reach its full growth potential. The C. sinensis shrub thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9.

Step 1

Fill any sized bowl with water.

Step 2

Put the C. sinensis seeds into a sheet of cheesecloth. Fold the cloth together to form a bundle, and tie the cloth's ends into a knot. Drop the cloth bundle into the bowl, and weigh it down with a mug, marbles or any heavy object to keep the seeds underwater. Let the tea seeds soak for 24 hours.

Step 3

Remove the bundle from the water. Open it, and drop the seeds back into the water. Remove and discard any seeds that float. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the most viable.

Step 4

Fish out the sunken seeds, and spread them on a plastic sheet or dish in a sunny area. Sprinkle the seeds with water, and continue to do so to keep the seeds perpetually moist. Inspect the seeds after two days of sun and moisture. Remove the seeds that have become swollen and slightly cracked; these are the ones that you'll plant.

Step 5

Arrange several peat pellets onto a tray. Sprinkle the pellets with water to moisten them. Drop a single C. sinensis seed into the middle of each peat pellet. Arrange each seed so that its eye--the dark spot on the surface of the seed--is horizontal, meaning it's pointing in a parallel position to the top of the peat pellet.

Step 6

Keep the peat pellets moist. The tea seeds will germinate within 60 days.

Step 7

Transplant the tea seedlings to a pot once they have developed at least three leaves. Fill a gallon-sized pot with standard potting mix. Bury the peat pellet that contains the seedling. The pellet should be buried so that the base of the seedling is level with the surface of the potting mix.

Step 8

Keep the pot in partial shade until the C. sinensis plant is approximately 12 inches tall. Once it has reached a foot in height, move the pot into full sunlight. You can transplant the shrub directly into the ground--it requires well-drained loam--as it grows larger, or continuously transplant it into progressively larger pots as it outgrows its original one.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you choose to transplant the C. sinensis shrub directly into the ground, make sure you give it enough space, or you'll experience stunted plant growth. The shrub reaches a height of up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide, according to the North Carolina State University.

Things You'll Need

  • Camellia sinensis seeds
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Heavy object
  • Plastic sheet or dish
  • Peat pellets
  • Tray
  • Pot
  • Potting soil


  • "Herbal Tea Gardens"; Marietta Marshall Marcin; 1999
  • University of Hawaii: Germinating Tea Seeds (Camellia sinensis)
  • North Carolina State University: Camellia sinensis

Who Can Help

  • University of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea
Keywords: growing Camellia sinensis, planting Camellia sinensis, Camellia sinensis growing guide

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.