Growing Camelias As Garden Shrubs

Handsome evergreen foliage and abundant flowers make the camellia a valuable garden shrub wherever conditions are suitable. It requires an acid or neutral soil, unless it is regularly fed with specially prepared iron and manganese, and, although fairly hardy, its flowers are produced so early in the year that these are subject to severe damage by frost unless planted in fairly sheltered places. They succeed well in thin woodland, especially in the south and west, and also do well in many town gardens since they do not mind shade and benefit from the slight extra warmth that comes from many closely packed buildings.

Two races are of major importance, one composed of the almost innumerable varieties of Camellia japonica, the other of hybrids between this species and C. saluenensis. The colour range is similar in both races from white and palest pink to scarlet and crimson, and flowers may be single, semi-double or fully double.


Camellias transplant easily and it is best to buy them in flower so that the colours and flower shapes that appeal most to the purchaser can be selected. Most will make big bushes in time, but are fairly slow growing. Regular pruning is undesirable, but bushes can be cut hard back in spring after flowering, though with loss of flower the following year. A few misplaced or overlong branches can be removed without this danger and if this is done while the bushes are in bloom these branches may be useful for floral decoration indoors.

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