We are always excited when its the beginning of our camellia season and sasanquas start to put on a show.
Our most frequently asked Camellias questions:
Why grow Camellias?
Because they are beautiful winter flowering plants and secondly they fit well into any garden scheme. Camellias are the choicest winter flowering plant in cultivation. They can be used as individual garden specimens, in tubs, or creatively used as espalier, hanging baskets or topiary specimens. So as you can see they are extremely versatile. C. japonicas flower from May to September and it would be difficult to find many other plants that would fit into as many situations.
How often should I water my camellias?
More plants are killed by over watering than by any other cause. Camellias enjoy one or two deep soaking s a week; this is preferable to light frequent sprinklings. The deep soakings assist in carrying away accumulated salts which can build up from fertilizer use. The periods between watering allow the roots to breath.
What are the main characteristics of Camellia japonica?
As roses fade from view bright camellia blooms are always ready and waiting. Beautiful evergreen and prolific flowering japonicas are the most popular and largest group grown in Adelaide, easily recognized by their neat glossy dense green foliage. Plants will grow into a large garden bush or can be easily maintained as a tub specimen. Flowers will last for many weeks depending on the prevailing weather unlike camellia sasanqua which will blow away in a breeze.
What are their soil requirements?
Good drainage is essential. They prefer a soil which has high humus content, described as an acid soil with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5. This soil can be purchased in bags from your local garden centre or alternatively mix your own using course sand, loan, peat moss and well rotted compost. Remember your soil will be well worth your investment, it will mean the difference between a healthy plant or a struggling unhappy plant.
Should I mulch my camellias?
Yes! This will help keep the top soil layer moist and cool. Please mulch your whole garden especially with our new water conservation laws. We use pea straw, but the sky is the limit use what ever is easy and cost efficient for you. Shredded pine bark is every attractive with its dark brown finish and will also improve your soils condition. Make sure that you keep the mulch a few inches form the trunk of all your plants.
Can I prune my camellias?
Most camellias are tidy growers but when necessary they love to be pruned. If you are cutting flowers to display inside this will help your camellia bush to remain a dense compact shape. If your camellia have got too tall it’s easy to carefully prune the top foliage. Camellias respond well to a prune for shape immediately after flowering season, which is mid to late September.
Do camellias grow in sun?
Camellia sasanqua are the early autumn flowering variety that will tolerate a sunnier position as long as your mulching, watering and soil preparation is attended to.
If you would like to grow a C. japonica in a sunnier position you must make sure that you have selected a hardier variety, eg Great Eastern The Czar or the Emperor of Russia. In general the darker red blooms are tougher and happier in more sun than the paler softer coloured varieties.
When do I fertilise my Camellias?
If you would like to achieve optimum growth fertilise in early spring and again in mid summer. Fertilizers such as slow release Osmocote are easy to use and perfect for plants grown in containers. In the garden situation an organic fertilizers such as Blood and Bone or any of the commercial Camellia Azalea fertilizers or well aged chicken, sheep, cow or pig manure can be useful, the best advise is don’t over do it! Always follow a feeding with a good watering.
Can I move my camellia?
Of course you can! However timing is important and the best time is in late autumn through winter. Large plants can be moved by taking the root ball equivalent to the size of the top foliage. You will find that camellias have surface roots, so if you damage a few and this is quite possible make sure that you prune the top foliage to compensate for root loss. Make sure that you have your new home ready and place it facing the same direction as it was growing. Easily done by marking east with a tag before moving. Remember to give your moved camellia a deep soaking.