Perfect for your winter-blooming garden, learn all about the beautiful, easy-to-grow Camellia plant in this gardener's guide and plant profile.
You are looking for a way to liven up your winter garden.
It is boring, lacking color, and needs a boost. What about planting a Camellia plant?
Many varieties of Camellia have been bred to bloom in the winter, their leaves are used for tea, and they will look beautiful in your garden.
If you already have a Camellia, you're in the right place because we'll teach you how to properly care for it!
In our Camellia plant profile below, you'll learn about Camellias and how they evolved into the beautiful flowering shrubs we know today.
Read our Camellia plant post below to learn:
- Camellia plants for sale
- Plant profile table and free printable guide
- A brief history and popular uses of Camellia, like for tea
- Fun facts, and so much more!
Camellias: Why We're Featuring This Plant
First, Camellias are known as a winter bloomer, but they can bloom anywhere from fall through spring season depending on the climate and variety of plant.
The Camellia is a widely used and indispensable foundation plant in landscapes around the world for mostly shaded areas and for winter flower interest.
In addition, they are a well-rounded, well-traveled plant. With their possible cultivation dating back 5,000 years, this plant has an interesting history and today has "blossomed" into a highly regarded plant around the world.
Plus, they can live hundreds of years if properly cared for!
Finally, we're featuring the Camellia because of their economic significance. Native to the eastern and southern parts of Asia, Camellias have been selectively bred for years to produce the perfect tea leaves, and who doesn't love a good cup of tea?
Print Your FREE Camellia Plant Profile!
Subscribe to our Spoken Garden community and receive your FREE Camellia Plant Profile! Included in the plant profile: Camellia general plant info, maintenance tips, companion plants, and a planning guide!
Camellia Flower: History and Uses
Camellias are in the Theaceae family. Also known as the "Tea Family," this family includes flowering plants, shrubs, and trees.
Originally from parts of Asia, there are over 200 different species of Camellia today with a total number of varieties believed to be as high as 20,000. Wow.
Other genera in the family include Franklinia, Stewartia, and Cleyara, to name a few.
Camellia has an interesting history tracing back thousands of years.
Named by Carl Linneaus after the Jesuit botanist priest, Joseph Kamel, Camellias serve a valuable role in the economic market as the "tea plant."
Research indicates that the Ancient Chinese first started cultivating Camellias around 2700 BC.
Around 1700 B.C., tea, produced from the C. sinensis variety, first became popular in China during the reign of Emperor Nung.
Eventually, during the period of trade between the late 1600-mid 1700s, the East India Company brought tea from China to Europe where it became very popular and highly sought after.
By the early 1900s, the plant made its way to America and other parts of the world and the rest is history.
Today, most Camellias are grown and used for ornamental purposes but many varieties are used in cooking, cosmetics, hair care, as tea oil, and in Chinese herbal medicine.
If you want to read more about the history of Camellias, check out American Camellia Society.
Did you know that one specific species of Camellia is the main source for your tea?
The species Camellia sinensis, specifically the varieties sinensis and assamica are the main source for Camellia leaf tea around the world.
These two Camellia varieties are responsible for:
- Black Tea,
- Yellow Tea,
- White Tea,
- Green Tea,
- Oolong Tea, and
- Dark Tea
To make each one of these teas, the leaves are processed differently to get that specific flavor or, as the tea experts say, oxidation.
Many generations of selective breeding have occurred to make the perfect tea leaves.
|Botanical/Scientific Name||Camellia japonica; C. chrysantha; C. granthamiana; C. hiemalis; C. oleifera; C. reticulata; C. sasanqua; C. sinensis; C. hybrids|
|Cultivars||C. japonica 'Adolphe Audusson', 'Alba Plena', 'Betty Sheffield', 'Bob Hope', and many more, along with the Higo category; C. granthamiana 'China Layd'; C. hiemalis 'Chansonette', 'Shishi Gashira', 'Showa Supreme'; C. reticulata 'Buddha', 'Butterfly Wings', 'Cornelian', 'Tali Queen'; C. sasanqua 'Apple Blosson' and 'Mine-No-Yuki'; C. sinensis (Tea plant) 'Teabreeze'; C. hybrids 'Fragrant Pink', 'Floral Delight', and many more.|
|Zones||USDA - hardy to zones 6a and 6b ; Sunset - grows in zones 4 to 9, 12, 14 to 24, and H1.|
|General Information||Camellia's are in the Theaceae family with over 3,000 different named kinds.|
Most commonly seen and used Camellia is the japonica species with many different cultivars, flower forms, and colors of flowers and leaves to choose from.
Flower Forms: Single, Semidouble, Anemone, Peony, Rose-Form Double, Formal Double.
|Native Environment||C. japonica is native to China and Japan.|
|Plant Type||Evergreen shrub or tree.|
|Water Needs||Regular watering is fine and should be kept frequent with newly planted and young plants. Older and more established plants can survive and thrive with less water.|
|Mature Height/Width||Range from 3ft up to 20+ ft|
|Bloom Time||Japonica's can bloom during a wide range depending on location and health.|
|Flower Colors||Rose, White, Pink, Burgundy, Orange, Cream, mixed colors, Purple, Yellow, and many different hues and shades of all these colors.|
|Sun Exposure||Most prefer partial to full shade, but some older plants can take full sunlight with their roots completely shaded from the sun. Protect all plants from hot, strong sun and drying winds.|
|Growth Habit||Medium to Large shrub or Small tree; upright.|
|Soil Needs||Well drained, high in organic matter. Mulch 2-inches thick to keep roots cool and moist.|
|Fertilize||Apply commercial grade, acid-rich fertilizer and don't over fertilize. Follow fertilizer directions for amount and how long between applications.|
|Plant Spacing||Depends on species and cultivar needs.|
|Suggested Companion/Arrangement Plants||Next To: Rhododendron, Azalea, Forsythia, Yew, Daphne|
Underneath: Hosta, Vinca
|Maintenance Level||Generally, a slight heavy pruning after flowering or during summer and fall will improve the plant's appearance and next years' flower production, but follow specific needs for each species and timing of flowering.|
|Pest Susceptibility||Susceptible to sunburn, petal blight, scale, and sooty mold.|
|Poisonous to Pets?||No known poisonous attributes of either light ingestion or even general contact. Ingestion of large quantities of raw leaves, stems, bark, or other plant parts could result in stomach aches or diarrhea.|
|Edible for Humans?||Sinensis species, varieties sinensis and assimica grown primarily for tea production; White, Yellow, Green, Oolong, Dark, and Black Teas. |
If ingesting mass quantities of plant material, then some stomach pain or even diarrhea could result.
|Fun (or historical) Facts||- State Flower of Alabama|
- Sacramento, CA nicknamed the "Camellia City"
- Over 3,000 different named kinds of Camellia
- Some species are grown for use in garden landscapes and others are grown for producing different kinds of tea.
Want to buy your own Camellia plants after learning all about their characteristics?
Check these out!
Or, do you need to shop for other garden plants for this spring?
Camellia Plant Conclusion
Today, Camellias are highly valued and economically significant for their leaves.
A wonderful addition to any garden, Camellia plants have been specially bred to bloom anywhere from winter through fall season depending on the variety.
Imagine planting several varieties of Camellia in your yard and you could have color year-round!
With just a bit of regular maintenance necessary, their bright colors and lengthy history, Camellias are a perfect winter bloomer and complement to any garden season after season.
Well, that's all for now.
Thanks for reading and we hope we inspired you or educated you in some way with our Camellia plant profile.
Want to learn about other plants in your garden? Check out some of our other plant profiles:
- The Gardener's Guide to Dianthus
- The Gardener's Guide to Chrysanthemums
- Hello Hellebore! January Plant Profile
- A Rose By Any Other Name: February Plant Profile
- Daffodil: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
See you in the garden!
~ Sean and Allison
Camellia References Used:
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