The Varieties of Camellia
Camellias are perennial evergreen shrubs that belong to the Theaceae plant family. Native to South and East Asia, gardeners often use camellias to add a dash of color to gardens during the winter months when many other plants go dormant. These easy-to-grow shrubs come in various forms and numerous varieties.
The camellia crapnelliana plant comes from Hong Kong and thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. This camellia variety reaches between 20 and 30 feet in height with spreads ranging from 12 to 20 feet. The Camellia crapnelliana features green foliage, reddish-brown bark and aromatic white flowers that bloom from October through December. These shrubs prefer rich, acidic soils in partially shady planting sites. This variety needs medium, consistent moisture and protection from direct afternoon sun. Camellia crapnellianas occasionally suffer from leaf spots, black mold and aphid infestations. Many gardeners use this camellia as container plants, background plants and shrub borders.
The Camellia furfuracea, native to Vietnam and South China, generally thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. This camellia variety reaches between 6 and 9 feet in height with slightly smaller spreads. The fragrant, white flowers bloom from December through March, followed by inedible brown fruits. This plant needs acidic, well-drained soils in partly shady locations. Anthracnose, petal blight and root rot sometimes plague these camellias. The camellia fufuracea works well when planted in borders or woodland gardens.
Camellia japonica, indigenous to Korea, China and Japan, typically grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9. This camellia variety matures up to 12 feet in height with spreads of about 10 feet. This shrub prefers partially shady positions and slightly acidic soils. The Japanese camellia blooms pink, red, white or striped flowers. The flower displays occur in the early spring for cooler climates and from autumn to spring in warmer climates. Indoor plants often attract mealy bugs, scale and aphids. Gardeners should plant this shrub in areas large enough to handle its spreading habit.
The camellia oleifera, more commonly called the tea-oil camellia, is native to Indochina and China. Winter hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 10, this camellia variety grows between 10 and 20 feet in height with similar spreads. This plant features green leaves and fragrant white flowers that bloom in March. The tea-oil camellia prefers fully sunny to partially shady planting sites and acidic, moist soils. Camellia oleifera plants often contract leaf spots, canker and black mold. Scale frequently infest these plants. Home gardeners typically use this shrub in protected areas around patios and homes.
Camellia petelotii plants come from Southern China and Vietnam, and successfully grow in USDA Zones 8 to 10. This variety of camellia reaches heights between 6 and 10 feet with slightly smaller spreads. Yellow, fragrant flowers bloom from December through March. Emerging leaves have purple tints, but mature to a dark green color. This camellia plant requires acidic, rich soils in partly shady locations. Camellia petelotti shrubs sometimes suffer from anthracnose, canker and petal blight. Spider mites and scales occasionally feed on this plant. The camellia petelotti works well as borders, hedges and backgrounds.