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Jim Hunter
master gardener








Camellia (Camellia Japonica)
January, 2018

Awe-inspiring flowers on a winters’ day is the ancient camellia.  Grown for centuries in Asia and Japan, the camellia was brought to the American south in the 1820’s.  The aristocrat of southern shrubs, camellias have been grown and loved since the antebellum days.  With over 2,000 cultivators, there has to be at least one that will brighten your winter’s day.

As a landscape plant, camellias are used as a hedge or specimen.  As an evergreen shrub or small tree, the foliage is dense and compact.  With a central leader, the camellia generally has been an oval shape.  Most commonly grown 6-10 feet, some varieties can reach 45 feet with a lot of time.  They are a very easy and tough plant if their living conditions are met.

Our freezes are no problem for they are cold hardy through zone 7.  Light requirements are high or broken shade.  Some varieties like Sasanqua can be grown in full Florida sun.  Morning sun with afternoon shade will make them very happy.

The camellia’s soil should be slightly acid (Ph 6.0), moist and well-drained.  Planted and mulched in an area with good air flow, the camellia has much less of a problem from the tea scale insects.




We have several dozens of Camellias at the Farm — Click on the Camellia to view them!

  Not impressed by roses? Are hibiscus far too common? Perhaps you should look into planting camellias. The blooms of cultivated camellias are among the most ornate and beautiful in the world. In fact, they are so impressive your neighbors may question whether or not they are real. Camellias are slow-growing evergreen shrubs that prefer well drained acidic soil. We grow three distinct species of camellias at the farm. Camellia sinensis is grown primary for its leaves, which are used to produce green tea.  White tea is made using the smaller, suppler leaves on the new growth.  Varieties of Camellia japonica are long-lived, growing into large shrubs or medium-sized trees. Here in Florida, it is best to protect these plants from harsh sunlight, so they tend to thrive only in shady locations. These plants have larger leaves and produce the showiest blooms of all the camellias, usually from December to early March. The last species we grow is Camellia sasanqua, which grow a bit faster than japonica varieties. These plants can also be grown in full sun and stay much smaller, more often as medium-sized shrubs. They still produce beautiful blooms, usually beginning about a month or so before japonica varieties. Camellias are tough plants that suffer from no major pests or diseases. Occasionally, mites can cause some discoloration of the leaves and the plants do not do well if pruned severely. If you are looking for a tough, cold-hardy plant, definitely consider planting some camellias in your yard. We have over 150 varieties each with a unique, breath-taking bloom.    

View just a few varieties of Camellias we have at the Farm by clicking here