Camellias at the moment are looking amazing and bring a delightful display to the garden whilst other plants are dormant.
Camellias are a genus of flowering plants from the family Theaceae. The genus consists of many species including the favourites Sasanqua, Japonica and the Sinensis from which tea is made. There are camellias for all situations, be it a formal garden or a woodland setting. Many are suitable for hedging, edging, topiary, or for training up espaliers.
Camellias are frost hardy and are best planted in a shaded or semi-shaded positions in an acid to neutral soil. A freely draining site and purpose-designed potting mixes such as a Camellia, Azalea or Rhododendron Mix can be mixed with your soil when planting. Camellias do not like to dry out too much so when planting it is best to place some water crystals around the roots. When choosing the position to plant your camellias try to avoid positions where they are likely to encounter hot dry winds in summer. Pruning will enhance the plant and create more flowers but should be done in late winter after the camellia has finished flowering. Camellias are relatively pest and disease resistant but can often be under attack from aphids, mites or scale but a spray with Confidor for the aphids or white oil for the scale will assist with these pests.
It is sometimes confusing for people as to which type of Camellia is suited to their specific application so the following information may help.
Camellia Sasanqua are tolerant of both full sun and partial shade and I believe they are the most robust and versatile of all camellia species. Sasanqua’s make magnificent hedges and flower abundantly in Autumn. The colours are varied with the amazing whites such as Pure Silk or soft pinks such as Jennifer Susan and stunning dark pink like Hiryu Dans’ Alice, Dans’ Kate and Dan’s Chloe are also very popular varieties from a very experience grower.
Camellia Japonicas display everything that is beautiful about the camellias such as dark green glossy leaves and an amazing range of stunning flowers. They prefer a partly shaded position but are quite hardy. Japonicas make magnificent garden specimens and are quite long lived so always ensure that you allow enough room for your camellia to grow as some can reach up to five metres in height and four metres in width. There are many varieties to choose from such as Constance, Debutante, Taylors Perfection or the variegated double varieties such as the Volunteer which bears amazing pink and white flowers. Camellia Higos are a separate species but a distinct group of cultivars which belong to Camellia Japonica.
Camellia Hybrids are derived from crossing of different species which can produce a new, improved variety. On speaking to a Camellia grower last week who has bred many different varieties this can be a lengthy process. They will select a particular variety of parent plant that has exceptional characteristics like larger flowers or hardiness that will be passed on to the new variety. Buttons and Bows and Debbie are beautiful hybrid varieties
Camellia Reticulatas usually can bear larger flowers which in turn makes them also a great feature tree for the garden. They have a strong veining or reticulated pattern on the leaves. Dr Clifford Parks and Valentines Day are beautiful varieties.