Camellia

CAMELLIA

Common name: none

Family: Theaceae

The Camellia is unquestionably one of the most popular of all evergreen shrubs. Flowering early in the year, its blooms can be damaged by cold winds, and after frost if in a position where early morning sun causes quick thawing. There are a considerable number of species, but those usually seen in our gardens are from legions of named varieties.

The foliage of camellias is oval, glossy and attractive when not in flower. The blooms range from single to semi or fully double, and come is a variety of attractive shades of pink, red and white.

 

camellia 'J.C. Williams'Popular species and varieties

The majority of camellias available are varieties of Camellia japonica, which originates from Japan and Korea. It forms a sizeable shrub 2-3m (6-9ft) in height, and flowers from mid-winter through until mid-spring. Among these are ‘Adolphe Audusson’ (AGM) with its semi-double, 10-12cm (4-5in) wide, red blooms. One noted for its peony-like flowers is the scarlet-red ‘Miss Charleston’ (AGM).

Another group of popular varieties is listed as Camellia x williamsii. These include the large silvery pink ‘Donation’ (AGM) and soft pink ‘J. C. Williams’ (AGM). ‘Taylor’s Perfection’ is another good choice, with pink blooms.

 

Cultivation

Soil type Camellias are not difficult to grow, if you have a well-drained, lime-free soil. When planting, incorporate some peat.

Planting Positioning is important, as camellias require a cool root run. Wherever possible, select a westerly or northerly aspect, ideally against a wall or backed by trees and shrubs. Provide shelter from cold icy winds. After a night-time frost, an early sun can easily damage blooms. Should this happen, however, there are usually unopened buds that will give flowers later Camellias can be grown in alkaline areas in containers of ericaceous compost Choose from among the more compact varieties, and water only with collected rainwater

Maintenance Newly planted camellias should be staked until they are well established.

Pruning This is not generally necessary. Any straggly shoots can be cut back during mid-spring, as long as it doesn’t harm the flowering potential. This is also a good time to give a mulch of well-rotted manure, leafmould or garden compost.

Pests and diseases Birds will sometimes damage early flowers. Another problem sometimes experienced is ‘bud drop’. This is normally caused by frost damage, or by the soil being too dry. Scale insects can be a problem; treat with a suitable insecticide.

19. May 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Ornamental Shrubs | Tags: | Comments Off on Camellia

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