Camellias - Care, Diseases, Propagation

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The flower color may vary slightly depending on the soil type and light intensity and is therefore not a reliable reference in the classification. Since the varieties vary only slightly in color, even the best photos are often misleading.
The flowering time varies depending on the climate and location. Thus, she is delayed by a severe winter and, in contrast, prematurely sets in after a long, hot summer. Nevertheless, one can make a rough distinction between early, normal and late flowering Camelia. The former bloom from late autumn to mid-winter, the second group from mid-winter to early spring, and the latter from early spring to late spring.
The flower size is an important criterion for classification. There are the following categories:
  • very tall: over 12.5 cm;
  • big: 10 to 12.5 cm
  • Medium: 7.5 to 10 cm, sometimes differentiated between medium sized (9 - 10 cm) and medium flowers (7.5 to 9 cm)
  • small: 5 to 7.5 cm, occasionally overlapping with a miniature group (flower size less than 6.5 cm)


Flowers have a ring of up to eight petals and clearly visible stamens.
  • Half-filled flowers show two or more rings around a clump of protruding stamens
  • Anemone-flowered forms can be recognized by one or more outer rings of flat or slightly waved petals and in the center of a mass of overgrown petals and stamens.
  • Päonienblütige forms are deep-red; they consist of numerous loose to irregular outer petals, petaloids and stamens.
  • The rose-filled shapes have overlapping petals that form a rounded head and reveal a concave center with some stamens when opened.
  • Fully filled resemble the rose-flowered forms, yet their symmetrically overlapping petals never open; Also they have no stamens, so they are sterile.

The right choice

C. japonica - Shapes can only hibernate outside in very mild regions. In addition, they bloom very early, so that their flowers are easily damaged by frost. As a rule, they are best used in Germany in the unheated greenhouse or winter garden. They grow bushy and reach a height of 1.8 - 3.6 m.
The wild form of C. reticulata survives outdoors only in very mild climates, but not in Germany. It is characterized by a more open habit than other Camelia. The breeding forms of this species thrive only in the greenhouse. Under ideal conditions, they reach a height of 3 - 4.5 m and are in bloom from late winter to mid-spring.
Most suitable for our latitudes are the C. x williamsiee hybrids, which thrive from late autumn to spring and already in their youth. They develop well in grove plantings or in front of a wall. The plants are 1.8 - 2.4 m high and thus fit even in old age in small gardens.


C.sasanqua and the resulting forms of culture are of extraordinary beauty. However, their suitability is limited almost exclusively to greenhouses and conservatories. The flowers are small and mostly unfilled.

Plant outdoors

In mild regions Camelia is planted in good weather from early to late autumn or early to mid-spring outdoors. They require a well-drained, lime-free, acidic to neutral soil, which is preferably enriched with foliage compost. If rhododendrons thrive well in your garden, camellias will do the same. Ideal is a west or sheltered northern location. Otherwise, a place in front of a wall or under trees is recommended, where the plants are protected against frost and early morning sun. Optimal is light shade with full sun at a late hour.
The plants are shallow (not deeper than they were in the nursery) and firmly planted in the ground, mulching with peat or foliage compost. Never plant camellias in an easterly position, where a strong frost is followed by a blazing morning sun. Because this would thaw the buds too quickly and show brown borders after blooming. Also unsuitable is southern exposure, as camellias like to root cool ground.
A sheltered garden not only ensures that the temperature rises slowly, but also shields the plants from strong winds, which could damage the delicate buds. In unavoidable wind-exposed position supports young plants until they have settled in well, and erects a windbreak.

Plant in pots

Above all, early-flowering camellias are best grown in 20-30 cm pots or small planters. The substrate consists of four parts of lime-free clay, two parts of foliage compost or peat and one part of coarse sand. It is enriched with 1 handful of bone meal / bucket. Alternatively, use a commercially available potting soil especially for acid-loving plants.
From late spring to mid-autumn, place the pot or bucket outdoors in a sheltered, partially shaded spot.Then transfer it to a cool greenhouse or conservatory where the plant will overwinter at 4 - 7 degrees Celsius until the end of spring. To accelerate flowering, raise the temperature to 9 - 12 degrees Celsius. You can also put the camellias directly into a greenhouse bed and pull it all year round under glass.


After acclimatization, camellias require little regular care. You do not have to cut them back, just shorten them to preserve their shape scrubby shoots mid spring after flowering. Particularly large flowers are obtained by thinning the buds before they open.
Camellias are mulched generously each year in mid-spring - ideal is an approximately 5 cm thick layer over the entire root area - from foliage compost, peat or well rotted manure.
After flowering, the withered flower heads are removed. This is mainly for aesthetic reasons. The formation of fruits is thereby prevented. They are not particularly decorative and deprive the plant of power.

Camellias multiply

During the summer months, take semi-mature shoots 7.5 - 10 cm long. Leave them in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts by volume or in rooting soil. The best results are achieved at a substrate temperature of 13 - 16 degrees Celsius.
Varieties that do not root well, such as C. reticulata forms, are best propagated by lowering branches of larger plants early in the fall. As a rule, these months are sufficiently rooted and can then be removed and planted on the spot.


If you want to keep many young plants, take leaf cuttings in summer. The rooting takes place in pots or bowls, as already described for sprout cuttings.

Pests and diseases

The only pests really dangerous to camellias are birds that pick their buds. Further problems can cause frost damage and bud fall due to dry soil.
Physiological disorders include tree decay, caused by nocturnal cold, and dull green leaves with brown and black spots surrounded by slight elevations. Such symptoms often occur in plants grown in alkaline soils.
When camellias are cultivated under glass, leaves and buds sometimes appear on leaves and buds.
The camellia is a tea plant and a plant for connoisseurs, that is for gardeners with empathy and the sense of something special. The camellia is very demanding and is extremely sensitive to change. Who wants to deal with the camellia, needs a lot of expertise and should be informed in detail, since it can happen very quickly that the camellia is received.

Worth knowing about the care

When planting in the garden a lot of things have to be considered. So the soil must be acidic with an optimal pH of 4-5.5, as well as humus, clay and sandhaltig. In no case may the camellia be planted in calcareous soil. It must be kept evenly moist, but waterlogging must be avoided. This can be done, for example, with a gravel drainage. Camellias should be planted only if they are older than three years, it would be better if they are already four-year-old plants. It should be protected from easterly winds, but be sure to get afternoon sun, as this promotes flower formation. Under no circumstances should you expose them to the sunburst or the morning sun. For example, low-priced locations are sheltered by hedges or under-light trees that are deeply rooted. A western location in the shadow of a house is also recommended. The camellia needs a high humidity, especially on hot days, against constant rain, but it should be protected by covers. The camellia tolerates short-term temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius, provided that it has a moist soil in winter. Most importantly, the roots never dry out. During the growth of the plant up to the bud formation it should be poured with lukewarm, lime-free water and additionally sprayed. Camellias are also sensitive to fertilizer salts, they should be given nutrients at most, about 14 days from the beginning of flowering to the end of July. The soil is best mulched all year round.
As soon as new leaves and buds become visible, a rest period of 4 to 6 weeks begins. In the resting phase is less cast and sprayed now and then. However, you should not let dry out the root ball in the rest period. The best planting time is the spring, the temperature range is dependent on the variety.


The camperie is a bit more complicated. She needs a bright and cool place that she always has. Also, the planter must not be rotated because the camellia could then react with bud fall. The best is a cool conservatory with a temperature range of 5 - 10 degrees Celsius. Also, the camellia must be protected from the blazing summer sun, the winter sun keeps it a little better.The soil in the planter should be loose, humus and sour. Waterlogging should never occur here, so drainage in the lower area is advisable. Regular airing and humid air are as important as pouring with lime-free water. The best solution is to use rainwater. Also for indoor use is a 14-day fertilization, best with special camellia fertilizer and a six-week break from August to September. In all seasons, the plant must not be rotated, you can instead make the back branches with mirrors or aluminum foil to the sun. Alternative locations to the winter garden would also be a bright but cool staircase or a veranda in which the conditions are right.
If, as a gardener, you live up to all the requirements and needs of the East Asian plant, you will be rewarded with thanksgiving, depending on the species, with blood-red, pink, white, spotted, filled or half-filled, bright red or yellow beautiful flowers. Depending on the species, the camellias bloom between December and April.

Video Board: Growing And Pruning Camellias.

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