By - Carlos May

Your outdoor Landscape and the Camellia

Your outdoor landscape will look gorgeous with camellia shrubs. By using the camellia as part of your outdoor landscape you will have a difficult time finding a plant that is equal to this evergreen shrub in terms of beauty. They not only have lovely flowers but this evergreen shrub has shiny dark green foliage that makes them very attractive outdoor landscape features even if they are not blooming.

In the milder zones of the United States, January is the most advantageous time to shop for and plant camellias. Many of the plants that are in the nurseries are in bloom now, This way you will be able to see what the blooms will look like and it is best to plant them now before the new growth begins. The new growth will start after the blooming period ends.

Most camellia varieties need to have an area of filtered sun, although the camellia sasanqua will endure full sun. If your garden does not have an area that provides partial shade you can always plant the camellia as a container plant on your patio. You also want the area for planting to be protected from strong winds. If your camellias get too much sun they could suffer from scald on their leaves, which is when the leaves seem to appear yellow instead of a deep dark green. Camellias will make good foundation plants where they are protected or shaded by large trees. They are also very beautiful on patios, as hedges, or in shaded secluded corners.

The flower colors of the growing camellias come in impressive shades of pink, red, white, or a combination of these colors. Camellias also make beautiful cut flowers due to the fact that the blooms have a lasting quality. Most camellia varieties can live for a century or so and can get as tall as 25 feet. But they are very slow-growing and can be pruned to whatever size you want, particularly as a flowering evergreen shrub.

The soil for camellias needs to be slightly acidic and well drained. They can also be planted in a commercial planting mix especially for camellias. Once the camellias are established, they are generally easy to maintain. The soil for the camellia should be kept moist, but it should never be soggy. When new growth starts to appear, your should feed the shrub with a camellia food; you only want to feed when the soil is moist, and then water immediately after feeding. You can repeat the feeding about every seven weeks through the middle of September. Always follow the directions on the fertilizer label and never overfeed.

Camellia bushes have very few diseases and most of them will not occur in dry climates. The primary disease is die-back which is caused by the glorerella cingulata fungus; you need to prune away all infected branches to the clean wood. Another disease is phytophthora cinnamomi root rot which will attack camellia japonica. To prevent this is by having good drainage. The camellia sasanquas and the new ‘winter-hardy’ camellia are pretty much immune to this root rot.

When you plant camellias in your outdoor landscape you want to allow about eight feet between the plants, unless you are planting them as a hedge when six feet apart will be fine. Some of the ‘winter-hardy’ camellias will make excellent hedges. Some of the varieties of camellia include the Bob Hope with its deep red blooms; Misty Moon with lavender pink blooms; Elizabeth Down Silver with blush pink blooms that are bordered in white; Debutante with light pink blooms and the Yuletide with its bright red flowers that bloom during the holidays. The camellia has very attractive fall and winter flowers with bright green glossy leaves and is a must for most winter gardens.