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> Camellias
Architectural Plants

Camellias - Elegant Flowering Shrubs for Long Lasting Winter Color

The genus Camellia is comprised of approximately eighty species; all of which are native to East and Southern Asia. Of these eighty, two, Camellia sasanqua and Camellia japonica are the most widely grown for the Southern California market. Prized for their ability to bloom in semi-shade, Camellias provide permanent and long lasting color through the cooler months of the year when little else is flowering.

Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'These exceptional evergreen shrubs have lustrous green foliage year round, followed by beautiful, sometimes fragrant, many petaled flowers. Camellia flowers have several forms (see key below). Some flowers have more petals than others, and some have their stamens hidden or exposed. Colors run the spectrum from glistening white to pink, rose, crimson, purple-red, true red and bi-colors.

The rather formal looking Japanese species, Camellia japonica, grows to a stately 10 to 15 feet or taller. Requiring a sheltered, shady location to thrive, its preference for the low light of overhangs and cool northern exposures is one of the characteristics that make this plant such a favorite with Designers, Architects and Homeowners. Few shrubs flourish and flower quite so profusely as Camellia japonica in conditions that other shrubs merely tolerate.

Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sakae'The smaller, charming sasanqua species is sometimes referred to as the "Sun Camellia" for its ability to perform in sun or shade. Camellia sasanqua can tolerate direct sun along the coast but in the hot inland valleys will require some protection during the afternoon. Typically smaller of leaf and flower than the Japanese camellia, sasanquas begin their bloom cycle earlier reaching peak flowering in November and December.

Camellias shine in a wide range of garden styles but are used to best advantage when massed in substantial numbers rather than dotted singly in the landscape. Availability is usually good throughout the year on standard varieties. New introductions such as 'Nuccio's Bella Rossa' or sought after cultivars and hybrids available only from Monrovia Growers will have a much more limited availability but are well worth looking for.

Camellia japonica 'Silver Waves'Easy to grow if their cultural requirements are met, Camellias need a slightly acidic, well drained soil high in organic content. Prior to planting, amend the surrounding soil with peat moss or Kellogg's Camellia/ Azalea Mix. Take care to position the root ball 1" above the soil surface as the oxygen requirement of the root is high and the plant will smother if positioned too deeply. Do not allow Camellias to dry out. They should be kept moist at all times but never wet.

Camellias are grown in all sizes, shapes, and forms; from one gallon cans through mature boxed specimens. Sasanqua varieties often exhibit strong horizontal branching patterns making them excellent subjects for espalier. Larger sizes are superb for adding instant age to new installations or defining structure in borders.

To the right, is a list of ten of the top varieties, both old and new, currently cultivated for the Southern California market. Classified by color, size, flower form, growth habit and bloom period, you're sure to find just the right plant for your next installation or design.


Quick Picks

Exceptional Camellias for Southern California

Flowering Times:
- Mid September thru November
Midseason - December thru February
Late - March thru April

'Nuccio's Bella Rossa'

'Nuccio's Bella Rossa'
Large crimson-red, formal-double blooms. Heavy bud set produces spectacular flowering throughout the entire Early, Mid, and Late bloom season. Medium, bushy, upright grower. New introduction from Monrovia. Availability will be scarce.

'Nuccio's Gem'
Pure white medium to large, formal double of outstanding quality. Medium, bushy, upright growth. Bloom period: Early & Midseason.

'Nuccio's Pearl'
Spectacular, fully double blooms. Pure white petals are edged with an orchid pink blush. Slow grower. Mid-season.

'Swan Lake'
Glistening white, extra-large formal double to full peony form. Medium, upright growth. Mid to Late season.

'Silver Waves'
Very large silvery-white, wavy semi-double blooms. Vigorous, upright growth. Blooms Early and Mid-season.

Soft pink, semi-double blooms. Low spreader. Early bloomer.

Large bright lavender pink, irregular formal double. Vigorous spreader. Early bloomer.

'Shishi Gashira'
Bright rose, semi-double blooms Low spreader. Late. Excellent for low hedges

Profuse semi-double blossoms with rose-pink petals edged with rose-red. Upright. Midseason.

'White Doves' ('Mine-No-Yuki')
Sparkling white, semi-double blooms. Flowers are perfect for cutting. Spreader. Midseason.


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