How to Care for a Camellia Shrub

Overview

Camellia, a popular evergreen shrub valued for its ornamental blossoms, requires only minimal care to thrive in the home landscape. The shrub's flowers, which appear in shades of white, pink or red, contrast with the dark green, leathery foliage. Slow-growing camellias can live for 100 years or more and reach up to 25 feet in height, though it may take decades to grow this tall. Hundreds of camellia shrub cultivars exist, and winter hardiness varies among them. Generally, camellia survives winter in USDA hardiness zones 7 and 8, though some cultivars may tolerate the conditions in zone 6.

Step 1

Plant the camellia shrub in spring or fall in a location that receives about four hours of direct sunlight each day and that consists of loose, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Space camellia shrubs 6 to 8 feet apart to allow room for their full spread.

Step 2

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding the camellia to insulate the roots, deter weeds and improve moisture retention. Start the layer at least 3 inches from the plant's base to allow air circulation. Replenish as often as necessary throughout the year.

Step 3

Water the camellia once per week during spring, summer and fall to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy or wet. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every two weeks during winter. Soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches each time.

Step 4

Begin feeding the camellia during the second year of growth in spring. Use a slow-release fertilizer to gradually release nutrients into the soil throughout the year. Read the manufacturer's dosage instructions for the best results.

Step 5

Prune the shrub in spring to improve its aesthetic appeal and overall health. Use hedge clippers to cut back any excessively long stems and remove any damaged or diseased limbs. Burn diseased growth at a remote location to prevent spreading the illness to other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Hedge clippers

References

  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Camellia
  • North Carolina State University: Camellia Culture
  • "Care Free Plants"; Reader's Digest; 2002

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: camellia shrub, camellia plant care, growing camellia

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.