Basic Camellia Care
Camellias are generally grown in the "camellia belt" which is normally known as climate zone 8 & 9. This includes warmer regions that might freeze, but not on a regular basis. You can view the climate zones at http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
Camellias like to be moist, but not wet. They don't like to dry out but they don't like to sit in water. The roots like to have oxygen, don't use very heavy soils that don't drain well. Commercial potting mixes usually hold too much peat moss and thus too much water. Combine perlite with potting soils to help provide drainage and aeration to roots.
Nutrients & Soil pH:
All camellias like an acid soil of about 6.5. Balanced nutrition is a must for having success with camellias. Infrequent or inadequate nutrient levels can affect growth, blooms and overall health.
Using a timed release fertilizer on ESTABLISHED plants is ok, but not for very small or young plants. We recommend using a liquid feed like Peters or Miracle Grow on camellias from CamelliaShop for the 1st year. Follow directions on package for application rates and suggested times. Feed regularly according to package directions. Please don't get into the habit of just putting anything that has "fertilizer" on the label. Lawn food or orchid food is not for camellias and can cause your plant to do strange things or even die if you're not careful. It's tempting to through the last bit of 32-0-0 that you just used on your lawn on your camellias, but doing so could have adverse affects.
Insecst & Pests
Insects that usually affect camellias are Scale, Mites, Aphids and leaf hoppers. Most of these insects can be kept under control with the use of an insecticidal soap or oil spray. Other chemicals that can be used are Orthene and Malathion. Visit the Camelliashop Library for more information on this and other insects and pests.
Each variety is different, so you need to check out the technical information on our website for individual varieties as to what types of locations they can tolerate. Most camellias will do well in Climate Zones 7, 8 and 9. There are cold-hardy varieties that will tolerate temps in zones 5 and 6. Camellias can tolerate mild freezing but not for prolonged periods of time. Most camellias prefer to have some cold weather in order to bloom well. Visit our website at www.camelliashop.com for detailed information about each of our camellia varieties.
Some can grow in the sun, some prefer more shadier areas but this is for established plants only. If you take a plant that has been growing in a shady location and place it in the full sun without acclimating it properly, you could get sunburn All plants have to be acclimated slowly to their new homes.
Potting or Planting
Camellias are shallow rooted, so planting too deep will cause severe problems. The top of the root-ball in the pot should be at level with the surrounding soil. Placing soil on top of the root-ball could suffocate your plant and you could end up with a dead plant. Stake your plant if necessary to keep it from falling over.
Camellias will do well in containers as long as the soil remains well drained. They do not like saucers that hold water and your plant will be susceptible to root problems if the pots stay too wet. Shallow pots versus deep pots are usually best. Adding perlite or other course material that provides more aeration to the roots and improves drainage is the best bet.
Most camellias can be acclimated to grow indoors as long as it is brightly lit, humid and cool. Too hot or too dry will cause problems with camellias indoors. They are typically outdoor plants, but can be grown successfully indoors following the guidelines above.
Commercial potting soils contain a lot of peat which holds too much water near the roots for camellias. See our recommendations for Camellia Potting Soil
Mix well and pot accordingly. Make sure not to plant too deep.