Cherished for their masses of magnificent flowers and their luxuriant, evergreen foliage, Camellias are, without a doubt, one of the most desirable plants to grow. Blooming for weeks from fall to spring (depending on climate and variety), they reward gardeners with exquisite blooms of striking shapes and color at a time of year when the rest of the garden offers little.
However, the luscious blooms of most camellias bear no scent.
- A number of camellia species have a desirable fragrance, but lack desirable size, color and flower form. To name a few, Camellia dubia, Camellia euphlebia, Camellia forrestii, Camellia fraterna, Camellia furfuracea, Camellia gracilipes, Camellia grijsii, Camellia handelii, Camellia henryana, Camellia kissi, Camellia lutchuensis, Camellia melliana, Camellia miyagii, Camellia nemotodea, Camellia nitidissima, Camellia oleifra, Camellia salcifollia, Camellia synaptica, Camellia tsaii, Camellia yuhsiensis and Camellia yunnanensis.
- Beginning in the early 1960s, efforts were made using the most scented species, Camellia lutchuensis, to incorporate floral fragrance into commercially acceptable cultivars. Several charming Lutchuensis hybrids have been created since then for the pleasure of our eyes and noses. Most of these camellia hybrids are strong, open-growing shrubs, with small evergreen leaves, often attractively copper tinted, and bear small flowers in profusion.
- Many Camellia sasanquas enjoy some fragrance too, and reward us with some of the loveliest fall flowers, graceful in form and tender in color. As summer fades and the leaves begin to turn, these camellias open, with aplomb, the camellia season. The flowers, mostly single or semi-double, are not quite as large and showy as those of Camellia japonica, but they are born in great profusion. Never bigger than 3-4 in. (7-10 cm), the scented blooms enjoy fluted, ruffled petals and range from white through to deep pink. Each flower only lasts a couple of days before it drops its petals which makes them ill-suited for cutting. The elegant and open habit of these camellias allows them to blend beautifully with other shrubs, without dominating the way the larger leaved, denser growing camellia Japonica do.
- Among Camellia japonicas, several cultivars claim to have fragrance. Among them, Herme, Kramer's Supreme, Scentsation, Spring Sonnet and all cultivars with "Fragrant" or "Scent" in their name.
Here is a selection of fragrant camellias that could become the highlight of your fall, winter or spring garden!