When to Plant Camellias – Planting Guide 2022

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when to plant camellias

One of the first signs of spring is the lovely camellia bush. Sort of a distant cousin to a rose bush, these flowers are lovely and full of life. Let’s dive in to discover when to plant camellias and how to best promote their beauty.

When to plant camellias: If you live in a cooler climate, it is best to plant your camellias in the spring so that they can establish themselves before winter. For hotter climates, while you can plant in the spring, you can also plant in the fall as the winter won’t be cold enough to shock the plants. Just avoid planting in the height of summer as the hot temperatures will be too overwhelming for camellias.

Planting Camellias in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

Camellias should do well in a tropical climate. They will appreciate the humidity which can keep their soil nice and moist. However, be sure to plant your camellia bush in dappled or partial shade to protect it from the afternoon sun.

Dry Climate

Growing camellias in a dry climate can be very difficult. They like soil that is moist and well-draining, which a dry climate simply can’t provide.

Temperate Climate

Perhaps the best area to grow camellias is in a temperate climate. While they need sun and some warmth for their bold blooms, they will wilt if the temperatures are too hot in the summer.

Furthermore, while camellias need a cooler winter, very harsh temperatures can freeze and damage the plant. If you are worried about a cold snap in your area, you may want to cover your camellia bush.

Continental Climate

For the most part, you won’t be able to grow camellias in a continental climate. It is too hot for them in the summer and if you try to protect them by growing in the shade, they won’t bloom.

As for the winter, it is often far too cold. You can try your luck by covering them in the winter but this can be a lot of hassle with no guarantee that they will survive.

Polar Climate

Camellias definitely can’t survive a polar climate. It is simply too cold for them.

Choosing Camellias Seeds

choosing camellia seeds

Debutante

Incredibly pretty, these lush pink blooms will spotlight any garden. They also bloom incredibly long, from October through May, but will only do so in climates where you don’t have temperatures that go below freezing.

April Dawn

This evergreen shrub will grow to be about eight feet tall and produces lovely, stunning blooms. The flowers have a creamy pink color to them with streaks of dark red that make them look like peppermints. They bloom from late winter to mid-spring.

Kramer’s Supreme

A bolder option, this variety of camellia has a vivid, magenta pink color to it. The blooms often start in November and remain until March in warmer climates.

How to Plant Camellias Seeds

Timing

The best time to plant camellia is in the spring. You can often find camellia bushes in your local gardening center in the spring, as long as you live in a cooler climate.

Starting camellias from seeds is not very common, so it is best to simply start with a small camellia bush.

Plant your camellia in the spring so that it has a long time to establish itself before the winter. However, if you live in a warmer area that does not have a harsh winter, then you can plant later in the spring or early fall. Just don’t plant in the height of summer as it will shock your camellia bush.

Location

Camellias are a little high maintenance when it comes to location. While they need plenty of suns for their blooms to be vibrant, they don’t tolerate direct heat very well.

Partial or dappled shade is perhaps the best for camellias. The biggest factor to consider is the hot afternoon sun so if you can plant your camellias somewhere they can be shaded in the afternoon, they will be appreciative.

One issue that gardeners often experience with camellias is when their gorgeous blooms start to turn brown a few days after opening. This is not ideal.

The usual culprit is cold or wet weather. If you have camellias outside in a very wet climate and they aren’t protected from the rain, their blooms can quickly spoil.

Try to create at least some protection from rain for your camellias such as planting them under treed canopies or under the eaves of your home.

Soil

Again, camellias show their high needs in their soil preference. First, it should be slightly acidic; a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5 is ideal.

You should definitely test your soil first before planting. If need be, you can amend the soil with an acidic fertilizer. If the soil is too alkaline, your camellias won’t grow properly.

Another factor when it comes to soil is if it drains well. Despite them liking cooler temperatures, camellias need soil that drains well. If there is pooling water, their roots will start to rot.

In order to test how your soil drains, simply dig a hole that is 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Then, fill the hole with water and watch it drain. Water that takes more than 10 minutes to drain through the hole is too compact and your camellias will suffer.

Planting

The key takeaway when planting camellias is that the roots should not be too deep. Aim to have the top of the roots right at ground level or even just above.

When digging your hole for your camellia bush, make sure it is about the same height as the root. Then, as you add in more soil, mound it around the top of the roots but don’t cover the area next to the stems.

How to Water Camellias

After first planting your camellias, make sure you water the area well to help the roots establish themselves. After that, you can ease up a bit but do remember that they like moist soil.

While camellias prefer a steady amount of water, they are susceptible to root rot. Water for a long time each session and then wait a few days to water again. This will promote strong roots.

How to Grow Camellias

how to grow camellias

Mulching

While you should add a layer of mulch around your camellias to help keep the soil moist, care needs to be taken in this step.

First, only spread a thin layer, about one inch deep, around your bush. Any more and you can suffocate the roots.

Furthermore, the mulch shouldn’t touch the base of your camellia bush. If it does, the wood can start to rot.

Fertilizing

The right fertilizing schedule can make a big difference when it comes to camellia blooms. This shrub takes a lot of nutrients out of the soil so you will need to continuously replace it.

Wait until after your camellia stops blooming. Then, fertilize about four weeks after this with a balanced fertilizer.

The new nutrients are especially important when the shrub creates new buds. You won’t be aware of the process as the shrub is working hard but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts when the blooms come out.

Pruning

There are different varieties of camellias and once you have will determine when you can prune them. If you mix up, your bush will still be ok but it will affect the blooms.

Camellias that bloom in the fall will have bushes that set their buds in the spring. This means that you need to prune your bush in early winter, immediately after the blooms fade.

As for camellias that bloom in the spring, their buds are set in the fall. Therefore, you should prune in late spring after the blooms fade.

If you aren’t sure about the variety of your camellias, simply wait until the blooms fade, and then shortly after do a light pruning. You don’t need to cut back too much of the bush to maintain its shape.

How long do camellias take to grow?

Almost everyone will grow their camellias as small shrubs and not seeds, so you can have blooms immediately after you plant them. However, the timing of your blooms will be dependent on the variety you purchase.

Camellia bushes will become dormant over the winter in colder climates but will then start to grow again in the spring. They will grow more each year unless you prune them back.

When do camellias flower?

The timing of camellia flowers will depend on both the variety and your climate. Some camellias will bloom in spring while others flower in the fall.

Cooler climates will have camellias start to bloom in late winter or early spring while warmer climates can have camellia bushes that bloom throughout the winter.

Conclusion

Camellias are a great way to brighten up your garden. While they have more specifications when it comes to planting, any gardener with experience will be able to meet their needs. Plant your camellia bush in mid-spring to allow it to settle in before the cold winter temperatures hit.

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