Camellia plants are flowering shrubs that display early blooms in your garden. They conjure up images of Alice in Wonderland or romantic Japanese Tea Gardens and work well as single specimen plants or colorful editions to complex planting schemes. They are easy to care for once established.
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To transplant a started camellia plant, dig a hole that is three times as wide and slightly deeper than the root ball. The roots should be just below the soil surface. Choose a position that is protected from cold winds and will be partially shaded on winter mornings.
Growing a Camellia from seed to blooming plant is a difficult, though not impossible task. Do not dry camellia seeds. Plant them direct from harvest after soaking them for 12 hours to help them germinate.
A quicker way of propagation is to take leaf-bud cuttings. Fill a plant pot with potting compost. Choose semi-ripe shoots just as the shoot’s base is becoming woody. Cut the stem across just above a leaf. Leave about ¾ inch (2cm) of stem below and make another cut. After removing a ¼ inch of bark at the stem base push into the compost so the leaf sits just above the soil. Keep moist and over winter in a greenhouse or on a windowsill.
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Camellias need regular watering, especially during late summer to prepare for the following year’s flowering season. If you live in a hard water area try to use rain water whenever possible.
Balance the shape of young plants by shortening the main growing stems. Overtime they form a beautifully shaped shrub and shouldn’t require any additional support. Once your camellia is established it will require little pruning. Clip lightly with secateurs after it has finished flowering.
Deadhead throughout the flowering season.
Camellia blooms last well in floral arrangements. Cut in the morning or evening, dropping straight into water to keep them at their best. Split the stem ends before putting into your vase or container.
Good plant hygiene will keep your Camellias pest- and disease-free. Avoid wounding stems by using sharp, clean shears for pruning and harvesting flowers. Inspect leaves for signs of discoloration or disease and remove any infected sections before viruses take hold. Rake leaves and flower blooms, covering with fresh mulch.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Camellias (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...
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