How to Grow Camellia Japonica


In late winter or early spring, white, pink or red blooms that reach 5 inches across display against the glossy leaves of camellia japonica. Cold hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 and 8, this evergreen shrub can reach a height and width of 15 feet. Camellia japonica prefers partial shade with no early morning or late afternoon sun and grows best in soil with a 5.5 to 6.5 pH level. The best time to plant camellia is in late fall.

Step 1

Select a well-drained, partial shade location where the camellia will receive shade in early morning and late afternoon. Too much sunlight may cause leaf scorch.

Step 2

Dig the hole two to three times the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball is tall. Place the removed soil on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow.

Step 3

Mix about 25 percent organic matter, like compost or leaf mold, in with the removed soil.

Step 4

Remove the camellia from the container, and examine the roots. Use your fingers or a knife to loosen or cut any roots that are wrapped around the root ball.

Step 5

Place the root ball in the center of the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground. Adjust soil in the bottom of the hole if necessary.

Step 6

Backfill the hole halfway with the amended soil. Water well to settle the soil, and then finish backfilling around the root ball. Water again, and add more soil around the shrub, if necessary, so the ground is level.

Step 7

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine nuggets, keeping the mulch at about 4 inches from the main stem of the shrub.

Step 8

Use hand pruners to clip any damaged stems.

Step 9

Water every seven to 10 days during the first one to two months after planting if there is no rainfall. After two months, watering can be cut to twice monthly. Until the shrub is established, which should be about two years after planting, continue to water twice monthly if there is no rainfall.

Step 10

Fertilize in the spring of the second year after the flowers bloom. Use a fertilizer specially formulated for camellia. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, which may include a second application in July.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Tarp or wheelbarrow
  • Mulch
  • Hand pruners


  • North Carolina State University Extension: Camellia Culture
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: The Culture of Camellias; The State Flower of Alabama
Keywords: magnolia, evergreen shrub, planting shrubs

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.