During the winter months, we're all looking for ways to add pops of color to our North Carolina landscapes. That's why we're crushing on camellias (of the Japonica variety to be specific). These evergreen shrubs make excellent borders in landscapes, keep green foliage year-round, provide large, stunning blossoms in thousands of shades from whites to pinks to deep reds and even candy-cane stripes during this time of year and they're perfect for cut flower arrangements during the winter and spring months too.
There are two types of camellias–Japonica and Sasanqua. Japonica camellias bloom during the winter and spring while the Sasanqua camellias bloom in the fall.
Looking to add a little color to your garden this winter? Here's what you need to know about Japonica camellias:
In the wild, camellias grow under the canopy of trees provided by the forest. So your the camellias you buy will also do best in partial shade. They can, however, tolerate a little morning sun. The lighter the flower, the more shade the shrubs tend to require.
Camellias thrive in slightly acidic and well-drained soil. When digging the hole to plant your shrub, add organic matter (like Biotone) to aid in drainage.
When placing your new camellia in the ground, be sure the top of the root ball is level with the ground to help with drainage.
Shovel several inches of mulch around the base of your shrub to keep temperature and moisture levels consistent.
Keep roots moist by watering but don't allow them to get soggy. When planting in the winter, your camellia will require less watering, as the ground remains more moist during colder months. Water more during blooming season.
While many Japonica camellias grow quite tall, there are many small varieties which can be planted in containers. If you choose to grow yours in a pot, just be sure to use a potting soil especially for camellias, rhododendrons or azaleas.
Prune your camellias after they bloom in the spring. Pinching the tips will shape a more full shrub.
Fertilize lightly after spring blooming season with acidic plant food designed for camellias.