Types of Camellias
Camellias are outstanding plants for any garden. Not only are they evergreen, but they also bloom in the winter when many other plants are dormant. Use camellias as accent plants, as background plants or as a hedge. Plant camellias in partial shade to full shade in well drained acidic (pH 6.0 to 6.5) soil.
The most common camellia in the home landscape is the Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica). It is also the hardiest camellia. The dense upright shrubs bloom from late winter to early spring, depending on the variety, with flowers of red, pink or white. Sasanqua Camellias (Camellia sasanqua) are almost as hardy as Japanese Camellias. They can tolerate more sun than Japanese Camellias. They bloom in October and November. Sasanqua Camellias may have an upright form or a spreading form.
Yennan Camellias (Camellia reticulata) need winter protection, except in Zones 9 and 10. They are good container plants and can be trained on espaliers. Large flowers appear in the spring. Yennan Camellias produce excellent hybrids when bred with other camellias.
Tea-oil Camellias (Camellia oleifera) have small white flowers in fall and winter. The seeds are pressed to produce tea-oil for commercial use. Tea Camellias (Camellia sinensis) also bloom in fall with white flowers. The leaves and buds are used to make green and black teas.
Remove dead and dying flowers during the blooming season by snapping off the flower truss, or the main bloom, using your fingers. This prevents the plant from developing seeds, a process that halts flower production. Removing fading flowers allows the plant to conserve energy, often resulting in prolonged or additional blooms. Do not make drastic cuts when pruning the camellia until after it is finished blooming. Inspect the camellia and remove any dead or dying branches. Remove any limbs that cross and thin interior branches to increase air circulation and reduce the chances of an insect infestation. Measure the vase or container that will hold the cut camellias. Wait until late evening or early morning to cut camellias. Slit each stem or scrape the sides of the stem with a sharp knife.