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CAMELLIA


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leaves and profusion of tiny white fl owers with strong, pleas- ant fragrance. Used as parent to introduce fragrance to larger camellias. Long, pliant branches make it an easily trained espalier. C. oleifera. Shrub or small tree 10–20 ft. tall, 6–12 ft. wide, with open growth habit and somewhat weeping branches. Leaves are glossy green. Flow- ers are small (11⁄2 in.), white or cream, fragrant. Possibly the hardiest of all camellia species and a parent of hardy hybrids. The source of tea oil. C. reticulata. Some of the biggest and most spectacular camellia fl owers occur in this species, often on some of the lankiest and least graceful plants. Plants vary but generally start as gaunt, open shrubs that eventually attain consider- able size—possibly 35–50 ft. tall. In gardens, consider them 10-ft.-tall shrubs, 8 ft. wide. Leaves are usually dull green, leathery, and strongly netted. These are intolerant of heavy


pruning. With their natural lanki- ness, this makes them diffi cult to place in garden. They are at their best in light shade of old oaks, where they should stand alone with plenty of room to develop. In Zones 4–6, grow them beneath an overhang or near wall.


All bloom January to May in


California, January to April in the Southwest, March to May in the Northwest. ‘Buddha’ has a very large, rose-pink fl ower; inner petals unusually erect and wavy. Fast grower. True variety of ‘Chang’s Temple’ is large, open- centered, deep rose fl ower, with notched and fl uted center pet- als. ‘Mandalay Queen’ has very large semidouble pink fl owers with fl uted petals. ‘Mouchang’ has very large, single to semi- double salmon-pink fl owers. Vigorous. ‘William Hertrich’ has very large, semidouble, deep red fl owers with heavy petals. C. saluenensis. Shrub of


dense, leafy growth to 10–15 ft. tall and wide. Leaves elliptic, rather narrow, pointed, thick tex- tured. Early-spring fl owers are bell shaped and rather small, varying in color from white to fairly deep pink. Not of great value in itself, it has brought fl oriferousness, hardiness, and


graceful appearance to a large group of its hybrids. C. sasanqua. Useful broad-


leafed evergreens for espaliers, groundcovers, informal hedges, screening, and containers. Plants vary in form from spread- ing and vinelike to upright and densely bushy; sizes range from 11⁄2 ft. high and 6 ft. wide to 12 ft. tall and wide. Leaves are dark green, shiny. Flowers, heav- ily produced in autumn and early winter, are short-lived, rather fl imsy, but so numerous that plants make a show for months. Some are lightly (and pungently) fragrant.


Most sasanquas tolerate much sun, and in fact fl ower best in winter sun; some even thrive in full year-round sun with the right soil and regular water. ‘Apple Blossom’. Single white


fl owers blushed with pink, from pink buds. Upright, somewhat leggy plant. ‘Bonanza’. Early. Scarlet- red semidouble fl owers. Low- growing, spreading plant. ‘Cleopatra’. Rose-pink semi-


double fl owers with narrow, curving petals. Growth is erect and fairly compact. Takes clip- ping well. ‘Jean May’. Double, shell


pink fl owers. Compact, upright grower with glossy foliage. ‘Kanjiro’. Large semidouble


fl owers of rose-pink shading to rose-red at petal edges. Erect growth habit. ‘Mine-No-Yuki’ (‘White


Doves’). Large, full peony-form fl ower. Drops many buds. Spreading, willowy growth; effective espalier. ‘Setsugekka’. Large, white semidouble fl owers with fl uted petals. Blossoms have sub- stance; cut sprays hold well in water. Upright and rather bushy shrub. ‘Yuletide’. The best of these, with its profusion of small, single, bright red fl owers with yellow anthers on a dense, compact, upright plant. Bloom comes in late fall, early winter. C. sinensis (Thea sinen-


sis). TEA. In the West, the tea plant grows as a dense round shrub to 15 ft. tall and wide, with leathery, dull, dark green leaves to 5 in. long. White, 11⁄2-in.-wide, fragrant fl owers appear in fall. Takes well to pruning. Can be trimmed as


How to Grow Camellias


EXPOSURE Camellias grow and bloom best when pro- tected from strong sun, but tall old plants prove that some kinds of camellias can thrive in full sun when they are mature enough for their roots to be shaded by heavy leaf canopy. Young plants grow and bloom better in par- tial shade. A few camellias need shade at any age.


SOIL Moist, well-drained soil with high organic content. Avoid high pH. Because roots are not generally deep, plants benefi t from thick organic mulch. To grow camellias in containers, plant gallon-size plants into 12– 14-in.-wide pots, 5-gal. ones into 16–18-in. tubs. Fill with a planting mix containing 50 percent or more organic material.


WATERING & FERTILIZING Established plants (over 3 years old, vigorous, and shading their own roots) can get by with little supplemen- tal water. Feed with a com- mercial acid plant food after bloom. Never feed sick plants.


PRUNING Prune away dead or weak wood, and thin when growth is too dense for fl ow- ers to open properly. Make cuts just above the scars that terminate the previous year’s growth (often a slightly thickened, somewhat rough area where bark texture and color change slightly). This will usually force three or four dormant buds into growth. The best time for pruning is right after bloom.


CHALLENGES Poor drainage and salty soil or water are the main troublemakers for


hedge. Tea could be grown com- mercially in California, but the economics are against it. ‘Sochi’ also has fragrant white fl owers. C. × vernalis. These are


likely natural hybrids between japonicas and sasanquas, with which they are often classed


camellias. Best cure is to move plant into aboveground bed of pure ground bark or peat moss until it recovers. If you irrigate with water high in salts, leach accumulated salts out of the soil around camellia roots with deep soaking twice each summer. Scorched or yellowed areas in center of leaves are from sunburn. Burned leaf edges, excessive leaf drop, or corky spots usually indi- cate overfertilizing. Yellow leaves with green veins are signs of chlorosis; treat with iron or iron chelates. Camellia petal blight causes fl owers to rapidly turn an ugly brown. (Browning at edges of petals—especially on whites and pale pinks— may be caused by sun or wind.) Sanitation is the best control. Pick up all fallen fl owers and petals, pick off all infected fl owers from plants, and dispose of them in covered trash bin; encour- age neighbors to do the same. Remove any mulch, haul it away, and replace with fresh material; a 4–5-in.-deep mulch helps keep fungus spores from reaching the air and infecting fl owers. Some fl ower bud dropping is natural, some environmen- tal. It can be caused by over- watering, but underwatering is more likely, especially dur- ing summer. It can also be caused by very low humidity. But some varieties just set more buds than they can open. To get nicest display from them, remove all but one or two round fl ower buds (leaf buds are more slender); along stems, remove enough to leave a single fl ower bud for each 2–4 in. of branch.


and sold. They tend to be denser in growth, shiny in leaf, and have fi rm-textured fl owers. The following varieties grow 9 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. ‘Egao’ is a large, vigorous, semidouble pink. ‘Star Above Star’ has white fl owers that blush fuchsia at the edges.


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