Colour the cold with Camellias

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Colour the cold with Camellias

Garden Camellias are renowned for their exquisite waxy blooms, evergreen, glossy, dark green foliage.  Garden Camellias originate from the far-east and is a close relative to sinensis the source of tea, but a bit more on that later.  The garden varieties that we stock are Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua

Camellia japonica is known for its intricate flower shapes and colours

Camellia japonica

  • Commonly referred to as just japonicas.
  • The best spot is a shade to semi-shade position.  Better flowering occurring in the morning sun, so it is best to avoid the harsh afternoon sun as this will burn the flowers and leaves.
  • They bear masses of single, semi, to double blooms in shades of red, pink and white with some lovely bicolours out there.
  • Flowering occurs from autumn to spring.
  • Camellia japonica is known for its intricate flower shapes and colours
Camellia sasanqua with its dainty single blooms

Camella sasanqua

  • Camellia sasanqua can tolerate more sun but still be wary of the harsh afternoon sun.
  • They tend to have a more upright growth habit  with smaller leaves than Camellia japonica.
  • They are covered in dainty single to semi-double blooms in the same colour ranges as Camellia japonica.
  • Camella sasanqua flowers earlier than japonica’s- late summer through winter.

Benefits of growing Camellias

  • Extremely frost hardy and tolerant our highveld winters.
  • Flowers during winter when little else is in bloom.
  • Works great in containers – making it easier to show them off.
  • Glossy dark green foliage that looks stunning year round.
  • Ideal as a hedge and privacy plant for the shade.
  • Available in a stunning array of colours and flower shapes.

What do Camellias need?

  • All Camellias prefer an acidic soil. Mix some acid compost in a ratio 0f 1:1 to your potting soil or compost.
  • Camellias require regular watering to ensure the flower buds, which are 95% water, develop and flower to their full potential.
  • Keep them moist but ensure that they don’t get waterlogged
  • A regular mulching is one of the best ways to save on water and ensure your Camellia doesn’t get too dry. Mulch with acid compost at least twice a year.
  • Feed them regularly with a fertiliser for acid-loving plants.
Thin out loaded branches regularly

Tips and tricks

  • Don’t dig around their roots as they have a shallow root system.  Also, Camellias should be planted at the same level that it is in its pot or bag.
  • Transplant and prune after flowering.
  • On dry windy days, the mulch, as well as the plant, can be sprayed with water to increase the humidity.
  • Avoid cement pots as it will make the soil alkaline.
  • When you have a loaded branch (a stem where there are multiple small buds) thin out the buds by twisting off them off.  This will ensure that the remaining buds open up and flower to their full potential.

Steeped in history

All the tea you can think of, all from one plant, truly amazing.

As alluded to earlier, Camellia sinensis is our source black, white, green and Oolong tea.  Generally speaking, there are two main varieties used in the harvesting of tea leaves, namely Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (Chinese tea) and Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Indian Assam tea). There are also innumerable crosses, hybrids and especially clonal varieties that grow in conditions ranging from tropical all the way to Cornwall in the UK.  Tea prefers to grow at a higher elevation. Think of the foothills of the Himalaya’s.Curiously,South-Africa used to have a thriving tea production spot in the Heanestburg, Tzaneen area.  The fresh shoots are harvested in flushes throughout the year, with the end product differing due to the amount of drying and oxidation that occurs.

Have a look at our Camellia selection for this winter

Colour the cold with Camellias 5
Camellia look stunning in pots.

So the next time you take a sip of that warm cup of tea, spare a glance for your garden Camellia.

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