The hardy evergreen camellia provides a burst of color to a dreary winter landscape. Camellia plants have brightly colored large flowers in shades of pink, red or burgundy, blooming from winter through early spring against a background of dark, glossy-green foliage, depending on the variety of plant. The camellia grows slowly but can reach about 15 feet tall, and with proper care, camellias can provide beauty to a home landscape for years.
Provide a partial shady location with well-draining soil that has been amended with organic matter before planting. Camellia plants grow best in shade, although too much can cause the plant to become too leggy. Some morning sun is OK, but too much sunlight can scorch the leaves.
Water the camellia plant regularly, two to three times weekly, to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to provide a deep watering and keep the foliage dry.
Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch such as pine needles, chopped leaves or shredded bark around the base of the plant, not touching the main stem. Mulch will help maintain moisture and control temperature of the soil.
Apply a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 after the camellia plant has finished blooming. Apply according to the manufacturer directions around the drip line of the plant, not touching the main stem. Camellias do not require much fertilizer.
Keep the camellia pruned just to maintain the shade and clean the plant up. Prune lightly after the plant finishes blooming and remove dead and diseased branches. Pinch off the tips of the branches to increase fullness.
Inspect the plant for insects such as scales and spider mites. Pick off any insects that are seen and wipe down the infected leaves, including underneath, with a damp cloth. Spray the leaves with a mixture of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol in 1 quart of water to help treat and prevent insects.