Plant Family Guides: Camellias
Queens of the winter flowers, Camellias are attractive evergreen shrubs that are highly prized for the beauty of their exquisite blooms, their splendid evergreen foliage and their compact shapely habit. Blooming prodigiously for weeks from fall to spring (depending on climate and variety), when the rest of the garden offers little, Camellias are ranked as one of the very best flowering shrubs
Winters may be long and cold, but your garden can allay that dreariness and be transformed into a place of natural beauty with visually arresting textures, colors, fragrance and flowers. To create such a beautiful winter scene, you need to make sure you select the right plants.
Camellia japonica is the predominant species of the genus and counts over 30 000 cultivars in a wide array of flower forms and colors. Its shapely habit, handsome, glossy foliage and fabulous flowers have attracted gardeners for hundreds of years in Japan, China and Korea.
Camellia x williamsii are the first camellia hybrids. Generally blooming after the Japanese camellias, they result from the cross of Camellia japonica and Camellia saluenensis. Among the most cold-hardy camellias (inherited from the japonica parent), most of them are extremely vigorous, free-blooming, with attractive, semi-glossy, leathery leaves.
A common myth about Camellias is that they are very fussy and difficult to grow. This is not true. Camellias are exceptionally care-free plants if they are given a well-chosen site. Here are some basic rules that need to be followed to enjoy their splendid flowers.
These late season Camellias are in their full glory in August - October in the southern hemisphere; March - May in the northern hemisphere. Adding color and interest to the spring garden, these gorgeous flowering shrubs are highly prized for the beauty of their exquisite blooms, their splendid evergreen foliage and their compact shapely habit.
As summer fades and the leaves begin to turn, the fall-blooming camellias open the camellia season, adding charm and color in the garden, at a time of the year when most plants are going to bed for the winter. These early season camellias boast some of the loveliest flowers in March - June in the southern hemisphere; in October - January in the northern hemisphere.
What a treat to find evergreen shrubs that flower during the dull days of winter. Queens of the winter flowers, mid-season Camellias provide a splendid floral show in June - August in the southern hemisphere; January - March in the northern hemisphere. Winters may be long and cold, but your garden can allay that dreariness and be transformed into a place of natural beauty with visually arresting textures or colors. While flowers are usually associated with spring or summer, they can also contribute to the beauty of the winter garden. Adapted to endure harsh winter conditions, they bring the garden to life with their bright, showy colors and attract the eye.
Until recently, Camellias were the privilege of mild winter regions (Zones 7-10). Thanks to advancements in breeding, many new camellia varieties can be successfully grown in Zone 6 where they can endure temperatures as cool as -10F (-23C) if grown in sheltered locations. Here is a selection of winter hardy camellias that could become the highlight of your fall or spring garden!