Camellia (Camellia japonica), Alabama's state flower, is a stately, evergreen shrub that reaches up to 12 feet in height. The plant produces broad, leathery leaves and showy, single, semi-double or double flowers in shades of white, pink or red. Blooming occurs from mid-winter to mid-spring, depending on the variety. Blossoms rely on their beauty alone to attract pollinating bees, as they typically don't emit a strong fragrance and some types have no fragrance at all. Slow-growing camellia plants can live for a century or more, and require only basic maintenance to thrive in the home landscape for many years.
Plant camellia plants during late fall or early spring in a location that consists of well-drained, rich soil and receives partial shade throughout the day. Space camellia plants 5 to 10 feet apart to ensure plenty of room is available for their mature size.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil surrounding the plants to improve moisture retention, provide root insulation and deter the growth of weeds. Start the mulch layer at least 3 inches from the plant's crown to allow enough air circulation.
Water camellia plants once per week during spring and fall, and once every five days during summer. Reduce the watering frequency to once every two weeks during winter, when the plant is not growing actively. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 inches at each watering.
Feed the shrubs twice per year, once just as new growth begins and again just after blooming ends, using a specially formulated camellia fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package for proper dosage and application for the best results.
Prune camellia plants immediately after blooming ends to improve the plant's health and aesthetic appeal. Use hedge clippers to cut back any excessively long branches or remove any damaged or diseased growth.