Camellia Culture

Basically, all Camellias require the same culture. They prefer a well-drained soil that is high in humus content and slightly acid. In preparing the soil for planting in the ground, mix equal portions of sandy loam and peat moss, by volume. If leaf mold is available, it may be used in place of peat moss.

Dig the planting hole twice as large as the root ball and one and one-half times as deep. Fill the bottom of the hole with the prepared soil and tamp down firmly so that the top of the root ball, when placed in the hole, is 1" ABOVE the soil surface, as there will be some settling. The only way Camellias are temperamental is in the depth of the planting.The air requirement of the root is high, and when planted too deep, the roots will smother. The root crown should never be more than 2" below the surface of the soil. Fill in around the sides of the root ball with this same mixture, tamping it down firmly with the feet as you fill, then mound soil 3" high in the form of a saucer on the outside rim of the planting hole. Fill this saucer with water.

Camellias should be moist at all times, but caution should be taken against their being WET at all times. Water well and deeply, but only as often as your own local weather conditions demand. Too much water, too often, will cut off the air the roots must have. During the flowering period, watering should be watched, as the mature flower is 90% water and a drying out of the plant can cause undersized blooms, as well as bud drop. Camellias will use large quantities of water during the summer growing periods. For container-grown Camellias, you will generally need to fill your containers once a week in the summer, and in the winter, you should be able to stretch the period to approximately ten days. On very dry days, or when the temperature rises above 85º, sprinkle the foliage and the mulch in the late afternoon.

Fertilizing, or feeding, should start with the first signs of growth, even though the plant is still blooming. Caution should be taken never to overfeed. Camellias that have been injured with over-fertilizing take several seasons of special care to recuperate. Cottonseed meal, or commercial food specifically for Camellias, should be used. Your local nurseryman or garden shop will carry the prepared mixture best suited to your own local conditions. Follow the directions as printed on the package. If the plant is dry, water well the day before feeding, never feed a dry plant. Feed every 6 or 8 weeks from April through September.

Other than feeding and watering, Camellias require very little care. Some insect and pest control is necessary to insure a healthy plant. Scale and mites are the most serious threat, as they extract the plant juices and interfere with the normal development of foliage and stem growth. Generally speaking, Camellias rarely need spraying, so consult your local nurseryman and make certain that spraying is necessary.

C. Japonica, C. Reticulata and the hybrids need protection from hot midday sun. For the flower’s sake, the whites and pale pinks will need more shade than the deeper colors. “Shade” is a very relative term; in climates where humidity is high, Camellias can stand more sun than in climates that are hot and dry. C. Sasanqua is able to stand full sun even in hot dry climates, but does equally well in light shade. As to protection from cold, C. Sasanqua will stand temperatures of 10 degrees above zero to 5 degrees below zero with no injury. The Japonicas will stand temperatures to 5 degrees above zero, but the complete double flower types will have buds frozen and destroyed at this temperature. C. Reticulata is recommended for very mild areas, or glass house culture only. The hybrids, because they are hybrids, will vary from variety to variety as to the cold each will stand. Some of them have gone through temperatures of zero with little ill effects.

Blooming season of all Camellias listed in our catalog is denoted by E, M, L.

E: Early (Mid-September-November)Nuccio's Nurseries Incorporated
M: Mid-season (December-February)
L: Late (March-April)