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In Charleston camellias are incredibly carefree. I put so much energy into all my other plants, or at least I did before my injury, all the while ignoring the camellias completely. Yet the camellias bloom effortlessly every year, their bounty of colorful blooms set against glossy, dark green foliage from Nov through March, while virtually everything else is dormant. I tend to ignore my camellias most of the year and even forget they are here until this time of year when they lend such unexpected beauty and cheer to the landscape. I think it is perhaps in part because they require so little of me, that I tend to take them for granted this way.
They really are quite lovely. The doubles look very much like roses but with none of the drama, no thorns, no black spot, none of the troubles. They are such prolific bloomers that the blooms all but block out the leaves at times. Frost will cause brown edges on the pale colored blooms, but the medium and dark colors are mostly unaffected.
I have one variety that produces the crab-apple like fruit shown above. The fruit, which on mine is roughly the size of a quarter, provides winter and early spring food for wildlife - and is gobbled up very quickly.
Bottom line, if you live in an area where camellias will grow, you couldn't ask for an easier care shrub that will bloom its heart out when just about everything else is dormant.
Wow! 100+ yrs old. That's impressive. Does it have a particularly large trunk now? All of mine are under 30yrs old, and I've been keeping them pruned back to the 4-6ft height, but I've seen some older ones around here that are well over 10ft tall and a good 5-6ft in diameter with flowers all the way down to the ground.
My Professor Sargent is also in bloom right now. It's one of my favorites. I love the deep red hue and the full double blooms.
What conditions do camellias need? Sun? Shade? Somewhere in between? It gets pretty darn hot in Texas so some plants that might be labeled as needing 'full sun' would actually croak here in our summers. Are they slow growers? (I have too many of those b/c I didn't think to ask.) Anything else you might be able to share with me as far as growing conditions? Thanks.
Cameillias grow under the same conditions that azaleas do. They need light shade and acid soil. They do fine here in the hot summers. But they do need a shady spot on the N. side of the house. I have them on the N. and E side of a 2 story house. The only thing Ive seen kill them, is being attacked by invasives and lack of water during a drought. haven't seen that in years. here it is hot and wet. A ground cover of ivy would not be good.
I would say they are moderate growers when young, slower as they mature. Mature camillias rarely need pruning. As I said, mine were mostly 75-100 years old when I moved here. They require practically no care if properly sited, and weeded to protect from invasives. They put down a layer of mulch --the spent blossoms. They are shallow rooted so they don't need a lot of mulch.
I have one now that has been swallowed by ivy. This will be a job to free the plant. Camellias are blooming now in Alabama.