Camellias are popular evergreen flowering shrubs native to Southeast Asia. Planted in stately garden landscapes in Asia, Europe and America for centuries, camellias with their colorful fragrant blooms have long been considered symbols of luxury and elegance. Modern gardeners also love camellias because they bloom from early fall to late spring when many other plants are dormant, adding beautiful color to a winter landscape. Texas gardeners are surprised to learn that, in spite of their regal reputation, many camellias are actually easy to grow when planted in the proper conditions.
Choose a well-drained planting locationthat receives partial shade during the day. Late fall and early spring are the best times to plant.
Test the soil. Camellias prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Soil testing kits are available from home and garden centers and your local extension office. Purchase any nutrients to adjust the pH as recommended.
Prepare the planting area. Use a garden tiller or a hoe to break up heavy soil. After removing any existing weeds and debris, mix in any required nutrients along with large amounts of organic compost or pine bark mulch into the soil help improve drainage.
Dig holes twice as wide as the root balls of the camellias. Remove camellias from their containers and place in the holes. Back fill with soil until planting holes are approximately two-thirds full, and then fill the hole with water. Adjust the camellias upright in the holes so the crowns of the root balls are planted just above ground level. Fill the remainder of the hole with soil and pat down firmly.
Cover soil with a 2- to 4-inch layer of pine bark or other type of organic mulch. Mulch helps protect the shallow roots of camellias from extreme heat or cold as well as the excessive loss of moisture.
Apply a light application of slow release or water soluble acidic fertilizer to camellias in the spring after plants stop flowering.
Water camellias when needed. Make sure camellias receive an inch of water each week through rain or irrigation.