Camellias – Star of the Winter Garden

Few plants can rival the Camellia when it comes to providing colour in the garden during the winter months—and they can continue to flower throughout the year.  In addition, they have beautiful glossy dark green leaves all year round making them a wonderful foundation shrub.  Native to southern Asia and Japan, most are hardy to Zone 7 and will thrive in the Comox Valley. 

The two most common species grown for their flowers are Camellia sasanqua and Camellia japonica (Japanese Camellia). C. sasanqua blooms earlier than the japonicas—usually in late fall or early winter.  C. japonica usually blooms after the New Year into early March. 

Where to Plant:

The ideal spot is in the dappled shade of tall pines, out of any strong morning or afternoon sun and sheltered from strong winds.  As with azaleas and rhodos, Camellias prefer acidic soil that is fast draining but retains moisture and is rich in organic matter.  Since Camellias usually bloom when we are spending most of our time indoors, try to position the plant where it is visible from a window or where you pass by it often.  Smaller varieties can be grown in containers.

Fun Fact:   the species Camellia sinesis, and its many cultivars, is the plant used to produce tea!

For more information here is a link to the International Camellia Society

camellia japonica