Camellia japonica Hardy; China/Japan

Cool, dark green, glossy leaves and exquisite single and double wax-textured flowers that often seem too perfect for words. There are many fine hybrids in shades of pink, red and white to brighten your home during the more dismal months of the year – by careful selection you could obtain a collection of plants that would provide flowers from October through until the spring. However, to grow them well it is essential to have a balcony or terrace out of doors where plants could spend most of their time, bringing them indoors while they are in flower or to protect them from the more severe weather conditions. Indoors during the winter months they should enjoy the lightest possible location in a room that is cool and airy. In rooms offering excessive temperature and poor light, loss of leaves and flower buds is inevitable. Surprisingly, as one is forever being warned about the dangers of potting plants into containers that are too large, camellias in pots seem to do better when in large pots that would seem out of proportion to their size. Being an ericaceious subject, a lime-free mixture is essential, and one containing a high proportion of well-rotted leafmould would be ideal. Water to keep the soil moist at all times, preferably with rainwater, and during the summer months top the soil with moist peat to keep the roots cool.

Propagate from cuttings with three or four leaves attached, insert in small pots filled with peat and sand mixture and keep in a closed glass frame out of doors in a shaded part of the garden. Plants that do not seem to be taking too kindly to being planted in pots can be put out in the garden against a north-facing wall in lime-free soil.

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