Oh Camellia!

Bursting into bloom just when the garden is in most need of some colour, Camellias are quite simply Queen of the winter flowers.

There are numerous species of these evergreen shrubs, but the most commonly grown are Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica, and hybrids of these. The young leaves of another species, Camellia sinensis, are actually used to make tea, which lets face it, we would be lost without these days!

Camellia japonica flowers in late winter and early spring, while Camellia sasanqua blooms in autumn and winter, both bringing welcome injections of colour and fragrance.

Camellia japonica is the predominant species and counts over 30,000 cultivars in a wide variety of flower forms and colours. It’s shapely habit, glossy foliage and fabulous flowers have attracted gardeners all over the world, and some Japanese camellias around the emperor’s palace in Japan are known to be more than 500 years old.

The evergreen foliage of Japanese camellias is equally prized, the leaves are larger than those of Camellia sasanqua and more leathery too. They will remain deep, shiny green all year, providing year round interest and make wonderful dense hedges.

Camellia sasanqua is one of the loveliest autumn flowers, appearing as summer fades and the leaves begin to turn, this beauty bursts into life. The flowers are not quite as large and showy as those of Camellia japonica, but they are born is such profusion that a camellia sasanqua in full bloom becomes one of the glories of the autumn garden.

The elegant and open habit of Camellia sasanqua allows them to blend beautifully with other shrubs, without dominating the way larger leaved, denser growing Camellia japonica may do.

Camellias prefer ericaceous compost and fertiliser and should be well watered through the summer, as this is when the plants produce next year’s flower buds.

They do not need to be pruned regularly but, if they outgrow the allotted space, you can trim them into shape after flowering. Hard pruning is best carried out in March, however it may be a couple of years or more before they flower well again.

We stock a number of different options of both japonica and sasanqua at the nursery, in shrub, columnar, parachute, standard and half standard forms; as well as some of the more unusual hybrid varieties.


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