‘Winter’s Beauty’ above

Camellia japonica | Camellia

Evergreen and gorgeous. Perhaps my favorite plant ever. One page cannot hold enough detail on this plant, there are countless cultivars to suit any color preference or time of year. It is said that with careful choices it is possible to have one camellia or another blooming from fall all the way through spring. The flowers are rose-like but gentler, sometimes with wonderful contrasting stamen. My family had one specimen by our garage when I was growing up in Atlanta so I’m quite naustalgic for it. Camellias can be tricky, though. I have killed several by overwatering or pruning. It is best to keep it happy by adding high organic matter and walking away. Camellias are at home in virtually any style of garden as a wonderful focal point.

Best to site in partial shade, pine shade seems to be ideal. Important to site protected from wind. In winter brush heavy snow off branches but ice doesn’t seem to damage the folliage. You can prune after flowering but I wouldn’t reccomend any more than just removing minimal dead branches. Do not overwater, in fact leave it alone unless there are long periods of drought. Plants are sensative and go into shock, basically. So just keep nicely mulched and you’ll be fine.


orignially uploaded by kaycat
Some are advertised as having a frangrance but it’s never very strong, which maybe the plant’s one weakness. But the evergreen leaves and happy blooms are so appealing to the eye, who cares. Can be trained into espalier, but must be done very carefully.

Too many cultivars to give a good accounting (over 2000). If you’re really into them, just join the Amercian Camellia Society or when you go to the nursery, tell them the color and bloom time you want and they’ll likely get it for you. I will add to this list as I try them. Here are only a few that I’ve tried…
‘April Snow’ white, semidouble, blooms in April
‘Winter’s Fire’ apricot, hardy, blooms in winter

Camellia susanqua very similar to C. japonica, but a bit smaller in general size, leaves and flowers, but quite beautiful. Tends to be a bit hardier than C. japonica and blooms as early as Sept. Plant is more open and relaxed in general and a little less formal on the whole. Good for screens and borders.

ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 7 – 9 | part to full shade
GROWTH RATE ….. slow
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 3′-15′/4′ to 10′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Oval overall, can be loose or full folliage dependign on the cultivar, branches are and sometime almost weep.
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 1.5″-4″ ovate, sturdy, lustrous
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, alternate
LEAF COLOR ….. Evergreen | dark green, bronze a bit through the winter
FLOWERS | 1.5″ to 5″, any color except true yellow, some variegated though I’m not a fan of those since they look too stripey. single, semi and double. remove when bloom is done to refresh, can get frost bitten.

SOIL does well in moist rich oraganic, acid soil, ok in clay
Native Japan and China, cultivated 1742

VA Camellia Society

Clemson / Growing Camellias

International Camellia Society FAQs

MO Botanical Gardens / Camellia

Dave’s Garden / Camellia japonica



‘Winter’s Blush’ above