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Growing Stunning Camellias

Being 100% honest here, we are in love with Camellias! There’s something about their glossy leaves and pretty blooms that makes us love to see them in a garden. In New Zealand, there are two main types; Camellia Japonica and Camellia Sasanqua. Both are commonly found around the country, and less so the hybrids Camellia Quintessence and Camellia Sinensis (the famous tea leaf bush). We thought it was well past the time when we shared a few of our tips on how to best grow camellias.

How to Grow Camellias Which Thrive 


Camellias love to grow in slightly acidic and well-draining soil, like rhododendrons and azaleas, and are happy in semi shade spots. While frosts are fine for older plants, protect those just starting out. Choosing an area which is sheltered from the wind helps to keep the flowers looking nicer for longer.

The best time to plant camellias is during their flowering season, as this is when the roots are dormant. Prepare the soil by adding a lot of compost or sheep pellets. To make it more acidic, add sphagnum moss or bark mulch, or use a dedicated fertiliser. They are happy to be planted into pots but choose a good quality potting mix and avoid the soil drying out by mulching and frequent watering.

Deadheading of flowers isn’t required, as they will fall naturally. You will end up with a carpet of petals which can go slimy, so best to rake them up regularly and add to your compost. Feeding time is right after flowering has finished, and this is also the best time to prune and shape your trees too. A well trained and pruned camellia makes a lovely hedge, topiary, bonsai, bush or large shrub.

Choosing Camellias for Your Garden 

The foliage on a camellia does vary in size, shape and colour shade. Camellia Japonica are the larger variety, flower from winter to late spring and produce large single, semi-double and double flowers. Camellia Sasanqua grow faster, have smaller leaves and flowers, so are used mostly in hedges or as standards. They flower from autumn to late winter.

Both varieties offer a range of flower colours including whites, pinks, variegated and reds. Some have flowers which open fully revealing yellow centres, while others show only a bud shape in the middle. Not so good as a cut flower, they tend to drop their petals rather rapidly once picked.

Our Camellia Tree Gift is one of our best sellers, being such a hardy tree suitable for so many different situations, it truly is ideal for giving as a present for almost everyone!

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