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How to Grow Camellia Sinensis Indoors

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many teas are made from camellia sinensis leaves.
green tea image by Ragne Kabanova from Fotolia.com

Camellias are common plants in the garden. However, the camellia sinensis, is not your ordinary camellia plant. It is the plant that is harvested for black, green, oolong and white teas. It can be grown outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9. Fortunately, if you live outside these zones, you can still grow camellia sinesnsis indoors, which is usually planted as a cutting or from seed. It typically takes about 1 to 3 years after planting to reap your first spring harvest.

Nick a small cut into each seed with a utility knife and soak your seeds in warm water for 24 hours.

Prepare your planting tray by filling each cup with 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts potting soil and 1 part course sand. Water so the soil is slightly moist.

Sow each seed ¾ of an inch deep and cover with a sheet of plastic or glass, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Keep the soil moist and wait 1 to 3 months for germination.

Plant seedlings after they are strong enough to transplant (or cuttings dipped in rooting hormone) in small individual pots (around 6 inches in diameter) with the same potting mix described in step 2. Plant the seedlings to the same depth as they were planted before. Plant cuttings about 1 ½ inches deep.

Place the plants in a sunny area of your home that receives at least three hours of sunlight, such next to as a south-facing window. Set the plants on trays of rocks and water to increase humidity if your home is dry.

Keep the soil moist at all times. The roots are thin and cannot tolerate dry soil.

Fertilize your camellia sinensis every 3 to 4 weeks from spring until fall. Look for a fertilizer labeled for acid-loving plants. Since each fertilizer contains different rates of nutrients, follow the dosing instructions on the label; however, according to the University of Oklahoma, dilute the recommended dosing in half.

Repot the plants as they grow larger, usually every 2 to 4 years. However, every four years in the spring, prune your camellia sinensis back to about 6 inches to keep them small enough to grow indoors and to keep them growing lush and full.


Things You Will Need

  • Planting tray
  • Peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Course sand
  • Rooting hormone
  • Plastic or glass sheet
  • Tray
  • Rocks
  • Fertilizer
  • Water

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.