Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Nuccio’s Gem Camellia ( Camellia japonica )




Camellia’s generally bloom in the late winter to early spring down here.

They are evergreen, and grow to between 2′-20′ depending on which one you have and the growing conditions. This one should reach 10′.

They prefer partial shade. This one is planted in a mostly sunny location out front.

Camellias prefer acidic soils and lots of water. But Camellias will not grow in wet or bog like conditions. I find they survive droughts just fine as long as they have been in the ground more than a year. Because they like acidic soil and do not need much sun they grow well under pine trees.

They are extremely slow growing so it may take a few years before they are fully established.

While frosts do not bother the plant, they make drop their flower buds depending on when in the cycle the frost hits and how cold and how long it lasts.

Camellias are native to India, China, Japan and Indonesia in the woodlands. In Asia they have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. The golden ( yellow ) one is on the endangered list there. It is easily grown from seed, so consider locating some seeds and giving that one a try. It is considered the most hardy and pretty of them all by many.

Camellia hybrids, like the one here, have been grown in Europe since the 18th century. There are at least 5,000 hybrids, most derived from Camellia japonica. Other common hybrids derive from Camellia retuculata and sasanqua.

Watch for scale and aphids. If found treat with orange oil on underside of leaves for best results.

Leaf gall is a fungus that makes new leaves swell. Usually it only occurs in shady areas with no breeze. Leaves begin green then peel to revel a white powdery substance. Remove infected parts of plant.

Camellia virus starts as yellowing on leaf edges, flowers may have white spots. This is a virus. It is unlikely to spread but there is no cure either.

If newer leaves are yellow with green veins your camellia needs fertilizer and likely iron.

Red brown spots on leaves together with die back is usually from algal leaf spot. Give the plant more iron. Fertilize regularly.

Sections of plant turn brown and it spreads to other sections. This is usually from root rot. Rainy years bring lots of that to our area. There is not much you can do except to plant in a better drained area next time.

Camellias with larger leaves and larger flowers are more prone to scale than smaller leaved, flowered varieties.

If you want to transplant a camellia, January is the best month. Flowering takes place between Jan. and March for most varieties here. Mine was in the ground two years before settling on January as a time to bloom. After the cold winter of ’09-’10 it waited until February to bloom.

When you buy camellias look for a good sized root ball.

Camellias seem to do just fine during extreme drought and heat.

More Information:
American Camellia Society