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How to Grow Camellia Sinensis

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017

Popular Asian teas like black tea, green tea and oolong are made from the Camellia sinensis shrub. Its leaves are known for their high antioxidant properties when prepared as a tea product. Whether you plan to grow your own tea for consumption or simply enjoy the ornamental qualities of the C. sinensis' glossy leaves and white flowers, provide the shrub with the growing environment it needs to reach its full growth potential. The C. sinensis shrub thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9.

Fill any sized bowl with water.

Put the C. sinensis seeds into a sheet of cheesecloth. Fold the cloth together to form a bundle, and tie the cloth's ends into a knot. Drop the cloth bundle into the bowl, and weigh it down with a mug, marbles or any heavy object to keep the seeds underwater. Let the tea seeds soak for 24 hours.

Remove the bundle from the water. Open it, and drop the seeds back into the water. Remove and discard any seeds that float. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the most viable.

Fish out the sunken seeds, and spread them on a plastic sheet or dish in a sunny area. Sprinkle the seeds with water, and continue to do so to keep the seeds perpetually moist. Inspect the seeds after two days of sun and moisture. Remove the seeds that have become swollen and slightly cracked; these are the ones that you'll plant.

Arrange several peat pellets onto a tray. Sprinkle the pellets with water to moisten them. Drop a single C. sinensis seed into the middle of each peat pellet. Arrange each seed so that its eye--the dark spot on the surface of the seed--is horizontal, meaning it's pointing in a parallel position to the top of the peat pellet.

Keep the peat pellets moist. The tea seeds will germinate within 60 days.

Transplant the tea seedlings to a pot once they have developed at least three leaves. Fill a gallon-sized pot with standard potting mix. Bury the peat pellet that contains the seedling. The pellet should be buried so that the base of the seedling is level with the surface of the potting mix.

Keep the pot in partial shade until the C. sinensis plant is approximately 12 inches tall. Once it has reached a foot in height, move the pot into full sunlight. You can transplant the shrub directly into the ground--it requires well-drained loam--as it grows larger, or continuously transplant it into progressively larger pots as it outgrows its original one.


Things You Will Need

  • Camellia sinensis seeds
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Heavy object
  • Plastic sheet or dish
  • Peat pellets
  • Tray
  • Pot
  • Potting soil


  • If you wish to fertilize your C. sinensis shrub, the University of Hawaii recommends any standard shrub fertilize intended for ornamental shrubs like rhododendron or azalea plants. Apply fertilizers according to the labeled guidelines, since potency varies by product.


  • If you choose to transplant the C. sinensis shrub directly into the ground, make sure you give it enough space, or you'll experience stunted plant growth. The shrub reaches a height of up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide, according to the North Carolina State University.

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.