Camellia: planting, growing, caring for, flowering


The Camellia (Camellia), belonging to the family of Theaceae, is a evergreen shrub decorative in a beautiful shiny green, much appreciated for its opulent bloom. It is the essential of the ornamental garden but also of well-oriented terraces and balconies since this shrub can be installed in the ground or in a container. Let’s take stock of the planting and maintenance of camellia as well as its flowering.

Plant a camellia

Two periods of the year are suitable for planting camellia: the early fall for late flowering species and the spring for those with early flowering. Planting camellia proceeds as follows.

  • Dig a generous hole twice the size of the root ball,
  • Mix heather soil with the extracted soil as well as very good quality planting soil or compost from dead leaves,
  • Place part of this mixture at the bottom of the hole,
  • Take the plant out of its container and carefully untangle the roots so as not to damage them,
  • Position the camellia in the planting hole; the top of the root ball must be at a good 4 centimeters below ground level so that it is covered with a small layer of earth,
  • Recap the hole,
  • Water copiously,
  • Top up with compost if watering has lowered the soil level a little,
  • Finish with a layer of coniferous twigs.

If the risk of frost is still to be feared, especially if temperatures below -4 ° C are announced, it is important to protect the camellia newly planted by a forcing sail until the weather is better.

Note that the camellia can be planted in a container (or in a large pot) fully drilled. The same mixture is used as for a planting in the ground. Then install the plant on the balcony or terrace, avoiding areas exposed to full afternoon sun, especially in summer.

Growing camellia

The camellia appreciates situations bright, partly shaded to sunny but without scorching sun, and sheltered from cold winds. It must also be protected from late frosts because they shorten flowering. It finds its place in many regions, including those with very marked winters when we choose a hardy variety capable of withstanding down to -20 ° C.

Camellia loves rich soils, light, well drained and fresh. But he also needs a soil with moderately acidic pH – between 5.5 and 6.5 – therefore it is necessary to mix heathland in potting soil or loam. This is also the case of hydrangea or rhododendron. This is why it is not uncommon to be able to admire immense clumps of shrubs associating these different species which, once in bloom, are absolutely spectacular. However, one can very well cultivate the camellia in isolation.

Take care of your camellia

Camellia is not very demanding. In order for it to thrive without problems and bloom abundantly every year, it is enough to give it the following few care.

Watering

In summer, when it is very hot and dry, the camellia must benefit from more copious than usual and regular watering so that the flower buds in preparation do not fall.

Fertilization

Each year after flowering, the camellia appreciates that we enrich the soil with 5 to 7 cm of leaf soil, ripe compost or even commercial heather soil. You just have to scrape the soil on the surface and then amend it.

Winter protection

When in bud, the winter-flowering camellia must be protected from the icy wind and frost, especially in harsh climates. Ideally we cover it with a wintering veil and care is taken to install mulching at the foot.

Likewise, the spring weather can cause stress in late flowering plants that have just been planted. There again it is necessary to protect the shrubs, but this time with a forcing sail also called sail p17. It must be held in place for some time to allow the camellia to acclimatize.

Mulch

Just after the fertilization carried out at the end of flowering, a mulch of pine needles is added on top of the compost, which brings a little acidity to the soil.

Cut

Young subjects are satisfied with a very moderate size (always after flowering) allowing to cut above a leaf to simply remove the small branches which protrude and / or the shoots which have frozen. The more severe pruning should be reserved for adult camellias, but only if necessary because it is absolutely not indispensable. It is mainly used to eliminate dead wood and damaged branches or possibly to ventilate the heart of the antlers.

Parasites and diseases

The mealybugs and the aphids can settle on the camellia and cause sooty mold, a fungal disease spotted by blackish mold on leaves and stems. The honeydew from these pests also makes the leaves sticky. The sooty mold can be removed with a cloth soaked in black soap previously diluted in hot water (wait for the mixture to cool completely to use it).

Then it is necessary dislodge unwanted people spraying the camellia with a house mix composed of a liter of hot water, a tablespoon of methylated spirits, a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and a tablespoon of black soap. Treat after the mixture has cooled. A second spray is necessary two hours after the first. Thereafter, this treatment is to be applied to the shrub every 7 to 10 days from spring to early fall if necessary.

About the ferric chlorosis, it is a physiological disease due to a chlorophyll deficiency Noticeable by marked discoloration of adult leaves, young leaves generally remaining green. In addition, the growth of the camellia is slowed down or even stopped and the shrub does not bloom.

A iron deficiency is the cause since it alters the production of chlorophyll. There are two solutions to this problem. The first is to water the camellia twice a year with water added with a spoonful of chelated iron well dissolved. The second solution, much softer, is the amendment with a seaweed fertilizer once a quarter, and during the winter, a shovelful of soil is placed at the foot of the camellia in which 5 to 6 g of sulfur powder have been mixed.

Flowering camellia

Camellia flowers, depending on the species, from December to the end of March or from March to May. Depending on the variety, the flowers look like carnations, some like roses, and still others look like peony flowers. Scented or not, they can be single, semi-double or double, more or less large since their diameter is between 6 and 18 cm. As for the colors, they are also varied (red, white, pink, variegated).

In order for the camellia to retain its beauty, it is recommended to cut the wilted flowers as we go along, which, let’s face it, gets a bit more complicated in adult subjects who can reach more than 4 meters in height… Anyway, camellia lovers can afford a rich collection since they exist more than 250 species as well as tens of thousands of cultivars and hybrids. They would be wrong to deprive themselves of it.