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The first camellias probably arrived in Europe in the 16th century. Actually, you wanted to build your own tea production. The Chinese, however, declared normal ornamental varieties as tea plants to protect their monopoly. That promoted after all, the gardening career of ornamental camellias: they were already in the mid-18th century in England as garden plants very popular.
Today, in addition to the varieties of the Japanese camellia and the already blossoming in the fall of fragrance camellia (Camellia sasanqua) a vast number of hybrids with different, sometimes even multi-colored flowers. All of their ancestors are from Asia. In this country, the garden forms thrive easily as potted plants on the terrace. Some varieties are also suitable as garden plants in mild regions.
Camellias have evergreen, alternate, mostly elliptical leaves with dark green upper and light green underside. The flowers carry in the center striking yellow stamens. They are reminiscent of peony flowers and can reach a diameter of up to 15 centimeters, depending on the variety. The loose-growing, usually upright-growing shrubs grow up to four meters high in mild regions in the garden. At their natural sites there are plants up to 11 meters high and more than 1000 years old.
In the open air, plants belonging to the family of the tea bushes need sheltered, partially shaded spots on humus-rich and loose, lime-free soils that should be evenly moist - these preferences are shared with their distant relatives, the rhododendrons.
In the field, camellias are classic solitary shrubs. They grow best in light shaded areas, even under larger trees, as long as they have no intolerant root system. You can combine them with rhododendrons, carpet dogwood and other shrubs and perennials that have similar soil requirements. Due to their origin, they are also well suited as solitary shrubs for Japanese-designed gardens. In the bucket, the plants feel comfortable on the sunny terraces and balconies. But they also grow well in unheated conservatories.
For a loamy soil, dig a very generous planting hole and top it with leafy humus or specific rhododendron soil before using the plant. A drainage layer of lime-free gravel or chippings down in the planting hole protects against waterlogging.
Like most evergreen deciduous shrubs, camellias are extremely cut-friendly and can be shaped at any time. In mild regions of England they are even used for cut hedges.
Winter protection and wintering
Outdoor plants should mulch in the root area before the onset of winter with a thick layer of leaves, bark humus or brushwood. In the cold season, the crown needs above all protection from sunlight and drying winds, so it is best to wrap it in a thin winter fleece. Do not remove the winter protection too early: late frost is usually the biggest problem for garden camellias, because the young shoots die immediately when the temperatures are below freezing.
For potted plants, a heated living room is unsuitable as a winter location. The shrubs are much better off in a cold house or a weakly heated conservatory at temperatures of up to 15 degrees. Keep your camellia out in the winter for as long as possible. Only from -5 degrees it is time for the move to winter quarters. If there is no bright, cool room available, a cold staircase will be used to bridge the frosty period. Afterwards, it is best to put the plants outside again immediately. Camellias need the cold to open the flower buds.
Further care tips
Avoid high temperature fluctuations and dry heating air shortly before the flowering period begins, as many varieties then shed their flower buds. Purify the plants only with rainwater or demineralized tap water and potted potted plants about every two years after flowering.
Camellias can be multiplied by cuttings. But you need a breeding box with underfloor heating and a bright, partially shaded location if possible. Depending on the variety, it may take several months for the first roots to form.
Diseases and pests
In winter quarters occur occasionally shield and mealybugs, also the fleshy leaves are popular with perennial weevils. Typical fungal diseases are camellia dying and phyllosticta leaf spot disease. The camellia plague is highly infectious and very difficult to combat. It is characterized by a brown-red discoloration of the flowers, which usually begins in the center of the flower, often accompanied by a moldy coating.Above all, light-blooded varieties are susceptible.