How to plant a camellia tree

A Beginner's Guide to Growing a Camellia Bush

Camellia flowers are beloved in the south. Evergreen leaves and fall-to-spring blooms make them garden favorites. Learn how to grow a camellia bush.

Courtesy Christine DarnellTaylor’s Perfection camellia

The lovely waxen flowers of a camellia bush are a symbol of southern elegance. Alabama even chose camellias for the state flower. Camellias have a reputation for being somewhat difficult to grow, but if you’re willing to meet their needs, they’ll reward you with a long bloom season just when you need it most, between fall and spring.

There’s a lot to know about growing this beautiful evergreen flowering shrub. For more information, visit the website of the International Camellia Society.

When Do Camellias Bloom?

The camellia group (Camellia spp.) features over 260 species, some of which bloom as early as October. Look for most flowers to appear in December or January and enjoy their colors through April. C. japonica is a common species with evergreen foliage and white, pink, red, yellow or lavender flowers.

C. sasanqua blooms in mid-fall to early winter, while C. japonica flowers from mid-winter through early spring. Hybrids can fall into either category, so be sure to read up on the plant information before buying.

Both species have been cultivated into many hundreds of varieties, offering a huge array of flower colors and types, growth habits, fragrances, and more. There are choices to suit nearly any garden. Bear in mind that camellias are not particularly hardy, and can’t withstand very cold winters. In zones 6 – 10, they can be grown outdoors. In colder climates, try growing camellias in pots that can be moved outdoors in summer, then move them into the house to enjoy their flowers in the fall and winter months.


Camellia Leaves

Though they’re strongly associated with the southern U.S., camellias are actually native to southeast Asia. They’re part of a large genus (Camellia), whose most famous member is one that’s regularly dunked in teacups around the world. C. sinensis flowers may be insignificant, but the leaves are grown and harvested to make tea of all kinds.

Camellias: Sun or Shade?

All camellias need some protection from the hot afternoon sun as young plants. However, plants that receive no sun will struggle to flower. Morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal. As the plants grow older, their own heavy foliage will provide protection from the sun for the roots. Check out 11 easy-to-grow plants to add color to your shade garden.

Best Soil for Camellias

Camellias require two important characteristics in their soil: slightly acidic and well-drained. Before planting, test the soil to determine its pH. Camellias grow best in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5; high pH levels will cause stress and yellowing leaves. If your soil is too alkaline, you can either amend it regularly with an acidic fertilizer, or try growing camellias in pots so you can easily control the soil pH.

It’s also important to ensure that the area you choose has well-drained soil, because camellias hate wet feet. Avoid spots in your garden that are regularly soggy. Not sure if your soil drains well? Dig a hole about 12 inches wide and deep, and fill it with water. If it drains in 10 minutes or so, your soil is fast-draining and should work well for these flowering beauties.

How to Plant a Camellia Bush

Camellias (like most plants) need plenty of water when they’re young and establishing root systems. Because rain water is naturally slightly acidic, it’s perfect for watering in new shrubs. Tap water is an adequate substitute, but since regular application may change the acidity of the soil depending on your water quality, test the soil regularly in the beginning. After they’re established, camellias rarely need supplemental watering.

When is the best time to water plants?

Camellias are a little picker about how they’re planted than most. If they’re planted too deeply or mulched too heavily, the stems can rot and kill the plant.

  1. Dig the planting hole the same depth as the root ball, then add a few inches of soil back into the hole to slightly decrease the depth.
  2. When you set the plant down into the hole, the top of the root ball should be slightly above the level of the surrounding dirt.
  3. Fill in the hole, sloping the fill dirt up to the top of the root ball without covering it.
  4. Mulch lightly, no more than about an inch.
Courtesy Sherry LewisDebutante camellias

When to Plant a Camellia Bush

In most areas, it’s best to plant camellias in the spring so they have a long warm season to establish themselves. In warm-winter climates, they can be added to the garden anytime. Though it’s wise to avoid the hottest months of summer.

When to Prune a Camellia Bush

In order to know when to prune a camellia bush you need to know what type of camellia you have. Sasanquas bloom in late fall, and start to set buds the spring before. Prune them immediately after flowering ends in early winter. Japonicas flower later, and can also be pruned just after their bloom season ends. Hybrids may flower at either time. So simply prune when the flowers are done.

Learn when to prune hydrangeas for big, showy blooms.

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Camellia: Planting, Growing and Caring For Camellias

Camellias are popular evergreen shrubs that produce a beautiful display of flowers during late winter and early spring, when little else is in flower in the garden. There are thousands of varieties to choose from, with white, pink or red flowers, which can either be single or double. Their shiny, evergreen leaves look great all year round.

Whichever variety you choose, you need to get the soil conditions right. Camellias need to grow in acidic soil. If you don't have this type of soil in your garden, many varieties are happy growing in pots of ericaceous (acidic) compost.

Camellias also do best in a partially shaded spot in your garden, sheltered from wind.

Growing camellias: jump links

  • When and where to plant camellias
  • How to plant camellias
  • How to plant a camellia in a pot
  • How to care for camellias
  • Problem solving

Camellia: plant profile

Botanical name: Camellia sinensis
Common name: Camellia
Plant type: Shrub, evergreen
Flower colours: Pink, white, red
Plant in: October-November
Flowers in: January-April
Prune in: April-May
Sun exposure: Full sun, dappled shade
Hardiness: Hardy
Soil type: Well-drained / light / sandy / acidic
Wildlife: Camellia 'Crimson King' is known for attracting bees
Toxicity: No toxic effects reported

Preferred growing conditions vary slightly depending on the variety of camellia.

How to grow camellias

The two main things to remember is that camellias need to grown in acidic soil, in partial shade. If you don't have acidic soil in your garden, you can make it more acidic, or grow camellias in pots.

When and where to plant camellias

How to grow camellias - Camellia x williamsii 'Donation'

Camellias are best planted in autumn, when the soil is still warm and the roots have plenty of time to establish before winter. You can plant a camellia in a pot in spring. Buying a camellia in flower lets you choose exactly the colour you want.

Camellias prefer a position that is in dappled or full shade. An area that gets morning shade is best as direct sun in the morning can dry out the developing flower buds too quickly. Camellias are woodland plants and do not cope well in a sunny, south facing spot.

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Choose a sheltered spot – camellias do not thrive in exposed, windy spots.

How to plant camellias

Camellias need acid or ericaceous soil, with a pH of 5. 5-6.5. If the pH is neutral in your area, you can make it more acidic by adding composted bracken (available mail order), homemade leaf mould or composted pine needles to the planting hole, then mulching with them too. You can also mulch with ericaceous compost or bark chippings after planting.

In this video, Monty Don demonstrates how to plant a camellia in neutral soil:

How to grow a camellia in a pot

Camellias grow well in pots and this is a good option if you don’t have acidic soil in your garden. Use a soil-based, peat-free ericaceous compost mix and a pot that is at least 30cm wide.

Before you start, water the camellia thoroughly (ideally with rainwater) in its original pot. Ensure the roots are fully saturated and allow to drain. Move your intended pot to its final position before planting it up as it may become heavy.

Make sure there are plenty of holes in the base of your pot and add crocks to improve drainage. Fill your pot about two-thirds full with ericaceous compost, leaving enough room for your plant.

Make a hollow in the compost big enough for your camellia’s rootball and place it in the pot.

Position the plant centrally in the pot with the top of its rootball about 5cm below the rim. Fill in around the roots with compost and push down with your fingers. Water well and allow to drain.

Camellias are slow-growing plants so don’t need to be repotted often, but it’s best to do this before the plant gets visibly pot bound. Repot in spring, into fresh compost.

How to care for camellias

Frost damaged camellia flower buds

You can deadhead camellia flowers as they begin to turn brown to prevent the plant looking unsightly. However, deadheading is not necessary to promote new flowers.

Water camellias with rainwater, if possible. This is particularly important in hard water areas with high calcium deposits in the tap water, which can affect the acidity of the soil. If you have no option, use tap water – it's important to keep camellias well watered in summer, between July and September, as this is when next year's flower buds are formed.

If you're growing camellias in the right conditions, they don’t need feeding unless they're showing signs of ill-health. Plants will perk up quickly after a feed. Don't feed too much in summer – this can cause bud drop.Good quality bark mulch in spring will give the plant a boost and act as a soil conditioner.

Camellias don't need pruning to promote flowering. However, some varieties can grow up to 5m in height if left unpruned. So if your space is limited, prune for height and shape as soon as possible after flowering.

Although camellias were at first considered tender plants, and were traditionally grown in greenhouses, they're in fact quite hardy. However, frost and snow can damage flower buds and flowers so it's best to cover plants with fleece according to the weather forecast, or, if your camellia is in a pot, move it into a greenhouse.

How to propagate camellias

Taking camellia cuttings

If you're looking to make more plants of your favourite camellia, they can be propagated by taking semi-ripe cuttings, hardwood cuttings, layering and grafting. Although camellias do sometimes produce seed, they're hard to germinate, take years to mature and won’t breed true.

Growing camellias: problem solving

Yellow, chlorotic camellia leaves, due to alkaline soil

Brown flower buds can be caused by frost damage or snow, especially if it is followed by morning sun. If a cold spell is forecast, or you live in a cold part of the country, you could cover your plant with fleece. If your plant is in an east-facing spot, you could consider moving it to a part of the garden that does not get morning sun.

If camellia flowers do not open, it could also be due to frost damage. Direct sun in the morning can also dry out the developing flower buds too quickly, drying the outer petals and preventing the flowers from opening.

Brown patches on camellia flower petals are caused by camellia flower blight. It is caused by a fungus, Coborinia camelliae. Although the effects are similar to frost damage, with blight, the whole flower is affected, with flecks on the petals, and they will drop early. There's no chemical solution so remove any affected blooms as quickly as possible and clear away any dead leaves and debris from the base of the plant. Bin or burn them to prevent further contamination – do not add to the compost heap.

Yellowing leaves are caused by lime-induced chlorosis. It's due to high alkalinity in the soil and means the plant isn't getting enough iron. If your camellia is in a pot, repot into fresh ericaceous compost and give the plant a feed with ericaceous plant food. If it's in the ground, add a layer of leaf mould, composted bracken or composted pine needles and treat with a product that contains chelated iron or sequestered iron.

Sooty mould on the surface of the leaves is called by leaf scale insects that stick like limpets to the undersides of the leaves. Use a soft soap solution, formulated specifically for plants, to wipe off the insects and the mould.

Watch our Quick Tips video with Kevin Smith, who explains why camellia leaves can become sticky:

A lack of flowers in spring can be caused by poor growing conditions the previous summer, when the flower buds are formed. Drought can prevent bud formation, so be sure to water well in summer. Also be sure to feed with an ericaceous fertiliser and mulch to keep the roots moist. Here, Alan Titchmarsh explains why your camellia might not be flowering and what you can do to encourage flowers.

Camellias to grow

Camellia x williamsii 'Contribution'

    • Camellia 'Water Lily' – an upright growing camellia, with formal double, deep pink flowers with a rich fragrance from February through to April
    • Camellia 'Cornish Snow' RHS AGM – a compact camellia, bearing masses of small, fragrant, single white flowers with bright yellow stamens from February through to April
    • Camellia x williamsii 'Contribution' – has semi double pink flowers with bright yellow stamens. The x williamsii hybrids are the toughest and easiest camellias to grow
    • Camellia sasanqua 'Crimson King' RHS AGM – a fast-growing dense upright shrub with large single bright red fragrant blooms, with masses of bright yellow stamens. Sasanqua varieties are among the earliest flowering camellias, with first blooms appearing in October
    • Camellia ‘Quintessence’ – a compact, slow-growing variety that makes a good choice for smaller sheltered gardens. The white single flowers are also sweetly scented

planting and care in accordance with all the rules in 2022 on GoodGrunt


  • Growing camellias in the garden
  • Diseases and pests

Flower growers who have encountered this plant for the first time need to know that planting a camellia does not always lead to the desired result, since it most often dies if it is improperly maintained and cared for. Camellia is a shrub with dense foliage of rich green color and bright lush flowers. It is especially valued for the ability to use it as a hedge and for decorating arbors. Camellia is able to braid vertical supports and arched elements, creating shading and separating the space. During the flowering period, this climbing shrub can turn the gazebo into a solid bright flower bed. However, to obtain the desired result, you should consider a few simple rules.

Those wishing to grow this plant at home will have to face difficulties, because the camellia is a rather capricious pet. Caring for her is quite complicated, and it's not even about feeding or watering. She needs a specific temperature regime, not too warm in the winter season. The flowering period of camellia falls just in winter, when the apartment is usually warm, and this plant does not like this. The optimum temperature for it is 10 degrees above zero. Therefore, growing camellias at home often ends in failure.

Nevertheless, it is not worth abandoning the intention. There are opportunities to provide camellias with proper care and a comfortable climate even at home. A glazed insulated loggia or balcony is perfect for growing this plant. Of course, provided that the temperature in winter will not exceed 12 degrees above zero. It is possible to achieve an optimal temperature balance due to the periodic ventilation of the loggia. It should be noted that the flowering of camellia lasts from one to three months and falls on the dormant period of the plant, the phase of active growth will begin in the spring.

Growing camellias in the garden

Given the difficulty of maintaining the optimal regime at home, flower growers prefer to plant camellias on the street. The plant feels especially good in warm climates, where winters are not too severe, because the sensitive root system can die if it freezes. Landing should be carried out at the beginning of winter, during the dormant period. It is important to remember that the roots cannot be buried at the same time; the area (neck) located between the root and the trunk must necessarily remain above the ground. In the future, care for camellia should be carried out taking into account the characteristics of the root system: do not injure it, do not replant the plant too often.

Reproduction of camellia is most often carried out in the following main ways.

  1. Firstly, by seeds - they are sown in boxes or singly in trays. However, planting in this way will lead to the loss of varietal characteristics.
  2. Secondly, by cuttings - in order to preserve all the qualities of varieties. When propagating in this way, a stalk with four or five developed leaves is cut off from the upper part of the shoot. The best time for this is January or July.
  3. Rarely used method of propagation by layering and by grafting.


To determine the quality of seeds, put them in a container of water. Floating seeds will not germinate.

Growing garden camellia requires certain conditions. The area where the shrub is to be placed in the garden should be adequately, but not excessively lit. It is best to plant it on the east or west side, the light should be both bright and diffused. Garden camellia loves acidic soil - when fertilizing the plant, you need to remember this. If the soil in the garden is not acidic enough, you can plant the plant in trays where the composition of the soil is balanced, and it will be easier to care for.

Planting camellia outdoors requires its preliminary mulching. Sufficiently moist, but not overflowing soil is an indispensable condition for successful shrub cultivation. Therefore, good drainage is required. Fertilization is done only after the soil is moistened, regardless of where the plant is planted - in the garden or at home, in open ground or in a tray.

Thus, shrub care should include several basic principles:

  • acidic soil;
  • bright but diffused light;
  • adequate moisture;
  • cool (not higher than +10 degrees during the day) temperature regime in the winter season.

If the climate conditions do not allow growing shrubs in the garden, leaving it to spend the winter there, you should not give up this idea altogether. In this case, planting is carried out in a tub. With the onset of cold weather, the camellia should be brought into the house, on the balcony or loggia, and in the spring it should be taken out again and kept in the garden until the next frost. This method even has some advantages, since in summer the plant prefers a temperature of +25 degrees. In southern latitudes, it is usually much warmer in summer. In a temperate or sharply continental climate, efforts will be required to ensure temperature conditions in winter, while in summer the camellia will feel comfortable. If you follow these simple rules, caring for a camellia will not take much effort, and the result will bring a lot of joy.

Diseases and pests

Regardless of varieties, garden camellia is susceptible to a number of diseases and damage by pests. When caring for, it is necessary to take into account the characteristics of the plant in order to avoid some problems if possible. The most frequent of them are the following.

  1. Root rot. Occurs as a result of excessive soil moisture and moisture stagnation in conditions of poor drainage.
  2. Burns on leaves. Occurs with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. That is why garden camellia is grown in areas with diffused light.
  3. Dropping leaves. It is observed as a result of non-compliance with the irrigation regime. This affects both the overdrying of the soil and its overflow.
  4. Pest infestation. Most often, the plant suffers from aphids or spider mites. Pests are removed with a soap solution, an oil-based emulsion or special preparations.
  5. Fungal attack. Spots appear, petals and leaves fall off. It can be treated with fungicides, but it is better to destroy the diseased plant, because the fungus spreads quickly and can affect other specimens.

There is still a risk of damage to the root system by weevil larvae. If you do not destroy them in time, they are able to eat the roots completely. An adult insect destroys the neck of the bush. In both cases, the plant dies. To combat this scourge, it is necessary to spray the plant itself and the soil around it with a special preparation against this pest.

In general, caring for camellias is not too difficult. In a favorable climate, it grows and develops so actively that some gardeners compare it to a weed. In more severe conditions, some effort is required, but the result is worth it. The variety of varieties and colors allows you to create truly luxurious decorative elements in the garden or at home. Dense dark leathery leaves perfectly shade the veranda or gazebo.

camellia garden planting and care, photo, outdoor cultivation, reproduction and combination in landscape design

Her garden camellia is compared with a rose, balsam and even ranunculus. Yes, they are similar, but this plant is a semi-shrub that blooms all season and does not shed foliage for the winter. It is these qualities that are loved by flower growers who are engaged in growing a flower on their site. Want to try? It is necessary to study the features of planting and the basics of care, because the agricultural technology of growing camellia differs from the agricultural technology of growing other crops. Choose a variety from the photo, and decorate the front garden!


  • Description of garden camellia: species and varieties obtained from them
  • Propagation and planting of camellia, or nothing is impossible
    • Propagation of shrubs: simple methods
    • Planting camellia: features
    • 9 Care -5 Rules

    • Pest/Disease Treatments "Plus" Fertilizing: On the Way to a Healthy Shrub
    • Combinations with Other Plants or Impeccable Landscaping
    • How to grow camellia: video

    Description of garden camellia: types and varieties obtained from them

    Camellia came to Europe from China, Korea and Japan, where this flower is deified, attributing healing properties to it. In the wild, it grows on the edges of the forest, near water bodies, therefore it is demanding on watering and loves diffused light.

    There are 3 types of garden camellia:

    • oilseed, which features autumn flowering and height up to 10 m. A real tree!;
    • mountain, which is a sprawling shrub with flowers of a simple form. Height - up to 5 m;
    • Japanese, characterized by large flowers (there are double varieties), rich dark foliage and compact bush.

    It is from the Japanese camellia that many hybrid varieties that are used by flower growers have been created. Their advantage is a long flowering period, resistance to frost and a variety of flowers (in bud shape, size and color). Attention can be drawn to varieties:

    • General Colletti - rich scarlet double flowers with white stains;
    General Colletti
    • Freedom Bell is an upright shrub that tolerates pruning. Feature - coral flowers;
    Freedom Bell
    • Hagoromo is a short shrub (up to 1.5 m) with milky flowers. Attracts elegance and nobility.

    Interesting! Do you love delicious and fragrant tea? Not only dried leaves, but also camellia flowers are perfect for this. Add a little mint, linden - and get a kind of exotic composition!

    Reproduction and planting of camellia, or nothing is impossible

    Having decided to decorate your own plot with an exotic shrub, you need to purchase a bush in a container or grow it yourself. This is a task that even a novice grower can handle.

    Shrub propagation: simple ways

    In order to get a camellia, you need to either buy or ask a neighbor for a few young shoots. Camellia propagates in 2 ways:

    1. Seeds. This method is laborious, and plants lose their varietal characteristics. But for the sake of experiment, you can try. To do this, the seeds need to be laid out in pots 5-7 cm in diameter (substrate - peat + sand + humus), take care of watering, a sufficient amount of light and humidity. In the phase of 4 true leaves, transplant into a large container.
    2. Cuttings. They are cut from green young shoots (only the tops!), rooted in the standard way. When the plant grows, it is transplanted into containers with a capacity of 2-3 liters.

    Attention! Young plants obtained by any of the methods need to be grown for 4 years. To do this, the temperature in the room in winter should not fall below 8-10ºC.

    Camellia planting: features

    So, you have received the plant. It is necessary to give him life, that is, to plant him in open ground. And then do not forget about watering, lighting and top dressing.

    In order to plant a beautiful camellia, you need to:

    • choose a place. The best option is a well-lit area (but one where half of the day is sun, half is shade), sheltered from the winds, that is, the area near the fence or MAF, is also quite suitable;
    Camellia responds well to mulching
    • pay attention to the soil. Camellia garden, unlike many other inhabitants of the site, prefers acidic soils. This can be achieved by applying special organic and mineral fertilizers;
    • dig a hole twice as big as the plant's earth ball. Camellia roots are fragile and delicate, so planting should be done carefully. With proper care, the bush will grow in 14-21 days;
    • Water the plant after planting and mulch with humus, sawdust or straw. This will give the roots the necessary moisture and protect the soil from weathering;
    • Shade out of direct sunlight during the first week of growth.

    It remains to provide the shrub with proper care and enjoy a healthy plant!

    Camellia care: TOP-5 rules

    Camellia care is watering, fertilizing, protection from pests and diseases. But each of the points has its own characteristics. Here is general information and specific points. They are:

    • Fresh air, but no wind. It is better to save the bush and protect it by planting powerful trees nearby.
    • Bright light, but not direct sunlight, but scattered. You can stretch a special shading net over young plants.
    Camellia bush
    • Irrigation. Uniform and regular - that's what the overseas beauty wants. An excellent solution for maintaining the health of camellia is to spray the leaves with settled warm water.
    • Pruning and winter cover. The first, which can be carried out both in spring and autumn, will help form a compact and interesting bush; the second is to protect the plant from freezing in the absence of snow and the presence of frosty winds.
    • Top dressing with mineral and organic fertilizers. Camellia in response will delight with friendly and abundant flowering throughout the season.

    Pest/disease preparations "plus" top dressing: on the way to a healthy shrub

    It cannot be said that the camellia is too prone to diseases. The only ones are fungal, which can be seen on the leaves: they turn yellow, turn brown, dry and fall off. Any fungicide for flowers purchased in a specialized store will help here.

    Pests rarely affect shrubs, but spider mites and even aphids can be seen during dry periods. In the fight against them, the drugs "Akarin", "Fitoverm" and the like will help.

    Learn more