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Camellia japonica, camelia sasanqua

  • Common name: Camellia
  • Scientific name: Camellia, species names include Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua
  • Family name: Theaceae
  • Origin: Southern Asia
  • Height: Most species are 6-15 feet tall, but some can grow as short as 2 feet or as tall as 20 feet
  • Width: Most species are 5-7 feet wide
  • Growth: Moderate
  • Zone: 7-9
  • Light needs: Part shade
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers fertile, well-drained soil with high organic matter content. Prefers acidic to slightly acidic pH (pH 5.0-8.5)
  • Moisture: Moderate water needs – water when soil becomes dry, but do not overwater, as too much moisture can cause root rot.
  • Drought tolerance: Somewhat high
  • Pests/Diseases: Tea scale, aphids, spider mites; root rot if overwatered
  • Growing conditions: Best planted from November to February in fertile, well-drained soil with high organic matter content. It does best in a slightly shady area, as too much sun may scorch it. Using a fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen and potassium once or twice a year will keep the plant at its healthiest. Camellias do well in the ground or in a large container as long as their needs are met.
  • Characteristics: Leaves are alternately arranged, thick, serrated, and tend to be glossy. Stems are woody. Flowers vary widely between species and cultivars, but tend to be large and showy.  In naturally occurring species, flowers tend to have five or nine petals, but many man-made cultivars have flowers with many petals arranged in a rosette-like pattern. Flower color and patterns vary widely. Colors range from pure white to bright pink to red, and some flowers may be dual-colored or spotted.
  • Propagation: By cuttings and air layering
  • Wildlife: Flowers attract pollinators such as bees
  • Facts: The first Camellia plants were brought to America from Asia in 1797. The leaves of Camellia sinensis are used to make tea. New cultivars of Camellia are introduced each year, each with different sizes, forms, and flower colors.
  • Designer considerations: Great for foundation plantings, accent plants, and hedges. They also function well as patio plants due to their ability to do well in large containers.