Camellias are an evergreen shrub with deep green, shiny leaves. Cold hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 6 to 8, the camellia shrub blooms in late winter and may also bloom in late autumn. Camellia flowers may be white, pink or red. Some varieties of camellia produce variegated blooms, like white with streaks of red. The blooms can be cut for display in a shallow vase. Plant camellia in late fall or winter as long as the soil is workable.
Evaluate the landscape for an area that is in partial shade and does not receive afternoon sun. The west side of a structure is a good location. The soil should drain well. Camellia will grow in most soil types but do best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Read the nursery plant tag on the camellia shrub for information about the shrub’s height expectancy. The mature heights of camellias vary greatly from as little as 6 feet up to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet in diameter. Varying heights and blooms colors can be used in groupings, like two staggered rows of camellia shrubs used as foundation shrubs with the taller shrub in back. Other options in the landscape might be identical shrub varieties on either side of the entry door or garden entrance, as a grouping in an area shaded by tall trees, or in containers on a patio or deck receiving dappled sunshine.
Mark the area in the landscape with a rock or other item where you will plant the camellias. Space the shrubs as indicated on the nursery plant tag, which may be 6 feet apart for shrubs that reach 6 feet in diameter.
Dig the hole twice as wide as the camellia container and one and a half times as deep as the root ball is tall to loosen the soil. If working in clay soil, mix equal parts soil with organic matter, like pine bark or compost, to partially refill the hole so the top of root ball will sit about 1 inch above ground level. If working in other soil types, like loamy or sandy soil, refill the hole as directed using only soil removed from the hole.
Remove the camellia shrub from the container and place the shrub in the center of the hole. Ensure the top of the root ball is slightly above ground level. The shrub will settle to ground level with future watering.
Backfill the hole half way with the soil removed from the hole. Run water around the hole to settle the soil and then finish backfilling the hole. Water again.
Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine bark or leaf mold, around the shrub to at least the shrub’s drip line, which is an imaginary circle on the ground around the shrub that reaches out as far as the widest stems. Keep the mulch about 4 inches from the trunk of the shrub. Mulch will help block weed growth as it holds in moisture. Mulch also gives the landscape a professional looking finish.