These deservedly popular, hardy evergreen trees and shrubs are grown for their glossy leaves and beautiful late winter and spring flowers, which come in a wide range of pinks, reds and white.

Suitable site and soil. Camellias grow easily in lime-free soil enriched with leaf mould. Protect flowers from frost and early morning sun which may damage the blooms. Plant out of full sun as roots should be kept cool.

Cultivation and care. Plant in spring or autumn. Dead-head after flowering and mulch well in spring using farmyard manure, leaf mould or lime-free compost.

Propagation. Root 7.5cm – 3in cuttings in summer in equal parts of peat and sand. Keep at 16°C – 61°F. Larger shrubs may be layered in the autumn. They will need about 18 months before being separated from the parent plant.

Recommended varieties. C. japonica is tall, growing to a height of 2-6m – 6-20ft. Red varieties include ‘Adolphe Audusson’ and ‘Mars’; pinks include ‘Gloire de Nantes’ (rose-pink) and ‘Magnoliaeflora’ (pale blush pink); whites include White Swan’ (pure white with golden stamens) and ‘Nobilis-sima’ (white peony-type flowers with yellow shading). C. x mlliamsii has glossy leaves and flowers from early winter to spring. One of the best varieties is ‘Donation’ with its big, delicately coloured, silver-pink flowers.

Pests and diseases. Birds may damage the flowers. Frost will cause the buds to brown.


Even if you have limy soil, this need not stop you growing a camellia. It makes a splendid specimen in a large pot or tub. Don’t forget, though, it must have lime-free soil in order to grow happily.

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