Camellias

This post, “Camellias” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

One flower that is important in Southern gardens is the Camellia.  It is one of the first flowers that I can recall from my childhood.  I remember my mother had a large one that had dark red peony type blossoms around Christmas time.  I also remember when it was common for ladies to pin one on their coats.  The appeal of Camellias must be that they bloom in the winter when everything else is dormant. 

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We are lucky to have several of these special plants.  I have planted Debutant, a pale pink, which I love to float in a shallow bowl.  It is a refreshing change after Christmas’s red and green.  This year I bought what was supposed to be Yuletide, a dark single red sasanqua, but when it bloomed it was a single white.  At first I was very disappointed, but then I started to like this one and will plant it where I have a white section in the side garden.  I still want a Yuletide though I have learned to buy only when in bloom to be assured it is the what the label says it is.  There is also a large camellia that came with the house.  It seems to bloom for months.  I also have my neighbor’s tree with red flowers as borrowed landscape.  These also are nice to bring indoors and float in bowls.

The only problem I have with these plants is that they can be such slow growers esp. the japonicas.  My Debutant has crept along to its present height.  Therefore it is wise to buy as large a plant as you can afford.  There can also be a problem with sooty mold, though it has been years since we have had any problem with that.  These plants also like to have some shade, esp. afternoon, this far south.  The leaves can sun scald.  They also prefer moist but well-drained acidic soil.  For me, that means planting high for drainage and a lot of mulch to keep the moisture in during the summer.  I think they do well for me because they are planted under pine trees which give them the shade they need.

I am thinking about planting some Shishi Gashira camellia sasanquas in front of some lorepetulums in my side garden.  I think the colors would look good together, and this would give some more color to that bed in the fall.  However, I will not buy any unless I can see them in bloom.  I do not want to be disappointed again.

There are many types of camellia.  The sasanquas and japonicas are two of the most commonly grown ornamental type.  Camellia sinensis is the plant that gives us tea.  We all know how Southerners feel about their iced tea, so maybe that is one more reason to love our camellias.

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1 Comment

  1. Phillip said,

    February 14, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I love the camellias. I went overboard a few years ago and bought about 15 varieties at a Birmingham nursery that specializes in them. Debutante is one of my most reliable bloomers. You should get ShiShi Gashira. Mine is blooming right now. There is one that I don’t have and want – it is called Ville de Nantes and apparently it is hard to find. Like you said, I prefer to buy them at a nursery with some good growth on them because they are indeed slow growers.

    Thanks, Phillip, for the feedback on the ShiShi Gashira. I am going definitely get them now.


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