Camellias at a Glance
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00000901/00001
 Material Information
Title: Camellias at a Glance
Physical Description: Fact Sheet
Creator: Brown, Sydney Park
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2012
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Abstract: Native to Asia, the first camellia plants were brought to America in 1797 and grown in New England greenhouses. Over the last 200 years, they have proven to be dependable additions to the southern landscape, where they grow and bloom with minimal care in most inland areas of North and Central Florida. Camellias are long lived and function well as foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings, and hedges. Camellias flower in the fall and winter when few other plants are blooming. For the remainder of the year, their glossy, evergreen foliage, interesting forms and textures, relatively slow growth, and low maintenance make camellias excellent landscape plants worthy of more use.
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Diana Hagan.
Publication Status: Published
General Note: "Publication #CIR461"
General Note: "Original publication date September 1985. Revised April 2012."
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Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00000901:00001


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CIR461 Camellias at a Glance1Sydney Park Brown2 1. This document is CIR461, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 1985. Revised April 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u. edu 2. Sydney Park Brown, associate professor and Extension specialist, Consumer Horticulture, Department of Environmental Horticulture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Balm, FL 33598The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim DeanNative to Asia, the rst camellia plants were brought to America in 1797 and grown in New England greenhouses. Over the last 200 years, they have proven to be dependable additions to the southern landscape, where they grow and bloom with minimal care (Figure 1).ere are numerous species of Camellia but the types commonly grown as landscape shrubs in Florida are Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua and hybrids of these. Camellia japonica typi cally grows larger and has bigger leaves and owers than Camellia sasanqua Camellia reticulata, Camellia hiemalis, Camellia vernalis and their hybrids are less commonly used in landscapes. e young leaves of another species, Camel lia sinensis, are processed for tea, one of the worlds most popular drinks (see Tea Growing in the Florida Landscape at http://edis.ifas.u.edu/hs308). Camellias can be grown successfully in most inland areas of North and Central Florida. eir success as a landscape plant is usually determined by soil type since they demand well-drained soils with an acidic pH. Special care with regard to soil modication and watering is necessary where these conditions dont exist and, in such cases, they are probably best grown in large containers. Camellias are long lived and function well as foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings, and hedges. Camellias ower in the fall and winter when few other plants are blooming. e Sasanqua-type camellias (Camel lia sasanqua, C. hiemalis, C. vernalis) bloom the earliest (OctoberDecember), followed by Camellia japonica types (JanuaryMarch). For the remainder of the year, their glossy, evergreen foliage, interesting forms and textures, relatively slow growth, and low maintenance make camellias excellent landscape plants worthy of more use. Figure 1. Camellia ower Credits: Harry P. Leu Gardens


2 Selection of Varieties Camellias can be purchased at nurseries, garden festivals, and camellia shows. Varieties range in plant size and form from compact to large and spreading to upright. A huge assortment of ower sizes, colors, and forms also exist, and new cultivars are introduced each year. Blooms vary in color from pure white to brilliant crimson, with many color combinations and patterns. Six ower forms are commonly recognized (Figure 2). Another important characteristic of camellia owers is their season of bloom. Midseason owering varieties that bloom from November through January are best suited for Florida conditions. Warm fall temperatures may prevent early varieties from owering properly. Late-blooming plants may start growing before the end of the owering period, resulting in bullnosing, which is characterized by owers that do not open fully and may even drop while still tight buds. Some good performers for Florida landscapes are listed in Table 1. Others, particularly heirloom varieties, also do well but are dicult to nd in the trade. A comprehensive list with variety descriptions and images is available from the American Camellia Society (http://www.camellias-acs. com/default.aspx). Local camellia societies and their ower shows are excellent sources of information, and they oen sell easy-to-grow and/or hard-to-nd varieties. Noteworthy camellia collections are on display at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, and Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park near Tallahassee.General CultureSoils. Camellias prefer fertile, well-drained soils high in organic matter with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. Soils that are too sandy or alkaline can be modied with soil amendments and fertilizer to make them more suitable for camellias. Another option is to grow camellias in large containers. Exposure. Camellias perform best in partially shaded locations with good air movement. Dense shade may result in sparse foliage and poor owering. Plants exposed to full sun may appear yellow green in color but may yield more owers than plants in heavy shade. ey are cold hardy but should be protected from cold winds. Planting. Camellias are best planted from November to February so the roots can become established before the heat of summer. Late spring or summer planting is possible if extra care is provided. Very sandy soils should be amended by mixing 3 inches of organic matter into the top 12 inches of soil. e entire planting bed, rather than individual planting holes, should be amended if possible. e planting hole should be two to three times wider and Figure 2. Camellia ower forms. From top left: single form, semidouble form, anemone form. From bottom left: peony form, formal double form, rose form double (ower opens to reveal stamens) Credits: Leu Gardens. Rose form double: Sydney Park Brown


3 slightly shallower than the root ball. When planted, the root ball should be 1 inches above the soil line to allow for sinking. Camellias cannot tolerate being planted too deeply. A 2-inch layer of mulch insulates the root system and conserves moisture in the root zone. Avoid placing mulch over the root ball to allow for air exchange. Plants should be spaced according to their mature size and rate of growth, usually at least 5 feet apart. Fertilization. Camellia enthusiasts who compete in ower shows typically fertilize their plants four times a year. However, camellias growing on a suitable site perform well with signicantly less fertilizer. One or two applications a year should be adequate. Use a fertilizer containing equal amounts of nitrogen and potassium (the rst and third numbers on the fertilizer tag) and low phosphorus (the middle number). e rate should be about half a pound of 12-4-12 or 15-5-15 (or similar fertilizer) per 100 square feet of planting area in spring and/or early summer. Late summer or fall fertiliza tion may cause tender growth, which may be injured by early cold periods. Water the plants before and aer fertilizer applications. Acid-forming Azalea & Camellia fertilizer should only be used on camellias established in the landscape (i.e., not young or containerized plants). Camellias growing on alkaline pH soils oen appear chlorotic (yellow) because of deciencies in micronutrients like iron, manganese, and zinc. Micronutrient sprays applied to the foliage or the soil may correct the problem temporarily. Watering. Camellias are fairly drought tolerant but need irrigation during extended dry periods when 1 inch of water should be applied every 10 days to 2 weeks. Camellias also need 1 inch of water per week during owering. ey are sensitive to overwatering and succumb to root rot when kept too wet. Pruning. Camellias typically need minimal pruning. Necessary grooming and shaping should be done in late winter or very early spring aer blooming. Pruning in late summer or fall removes ower buds, but selective removal of undesirable branches can be done to retain a neat shape. Shearing should be avoided because it destroys the natural plant form and results in a dense layer of foliage that blocks light from the interior branches. Propagation. e most common and easiest methods of propagating camellias are by cuttings and air layering. Rooting plants from cuttings ensures that plants retain the characteristics of the parent plant. Cuttings are usually taken in July from hardened spring growth. Air layering is a simple propagation method that allows one to produce a good-sized, true to type plant in a short amount of time. A ring of bark is removed from a pencilsized stem, and moist sphagnum moss is wrapped around the wound. Roots grow into the moss and the rooted stem can be cut from the mother plant and then potted to allow for further root growth. Once they are well rooted in the container, they can then be planted into the landscape. Air layers should be started in April and will be ready by August. Graing is used to propagate varieties that have desirable characteristics, such as exceptional owering, but a weak root system. Graing permits the union of the desired top (scion) with a vigorous root system (root stock) to yield a superior plant. Seed propagation results in tremendous seedling variation with a high percentage of undesirable seedlings. Seeds should be collected as soon as they are ripe (JulySeptember) and placed in ats or pots. Germination can be expected in 2 months if the seed coat is broken or scaried before sowing. For detailed information on these techniques, see Propaga tion of Landscape Plants (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/mg108). Disbudding and Gibbing. Some camellia growers enjoy competing in ower shows and manipulate the ower buds to achieve larger and earlier owers. is involves removing competing ower buds and applying gibberellic acid (a plant hormone). Details on this technique can be found at the American Camellia Society website (http://www. camelliasacs.com/default.aspx).PestsInsects and Mites. Camellias are generally low-maintenance plants, but a few pests can sometimes be problematic, the most common being tea scale, aphids, and spider mites. Tea scale (Figure 3) is the most common scale on camellia. Scales generally feed on the underside of leaves and may not be noticed until large populations have developed. Identication and management information for tea scale can be found at http://edis.ifas.u.edu/in522. Aphids injure camellias by sucking juices from young leaves. Injured leaves curl and become distorted. Aphids secrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which is an excellent medium for sooty mold, a black growth that grows


4 on the upper surface of leaves and becomes a cosmetic problem if the insects are not managed. See Ornamental Insects Sheet 2 (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/in024) for more information. Spider mites (Figure 3) are tiny pests generally found on the underside of leaves. e tops of infested leaves soon display a rusty or reddish speckling of the green surface. Spider mite infestations usually appear during hot, dry conditions and in areas of the landscape with poor air circulation and little exposure to rainfall. See Ornamental Insects Sheet 1 (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/in023) for more information. Specic management information on the above insects can be obtained from your local county Extension oce (http:// solutionsforyourlife.u.edu/map/). Diseases. Camellias that are correctly planted and cared for rarely develop serious disease problems, but known diseases of this plant include leaf spot, dieback, leaf and bud gall, and root rot. Leaf spots vary in size and shape depending upon the species of fungi causing the problem, but the fungi do little damage and usually only attack leaves injured by another means. Attention should be given to improving general cultural practices if leaf spots appear. Dieback is most common during the spring months and is characterized by wilt and sudden death of new twigs. Older branches can also be infected but usually die more slowly. e leaves characteristically remain on the branches for considerable lengths of time aer they die. e best dieback control is sanitation. e fungus causing this problem is inside the stem and is not satisfactorily controlled by fungicides. Diseased branches should be removed about 6 inches below the lowest visible symptoms of disease. Pruning tools must be sterilized aer each cut with an antiseptic, such as 10% chlorine bleach or Lysol solution. Removed branches should be destroyed and not recycled in the landscape. Leaf and bud galls appear as thickened and enlarged leaves or buds during the cool spring months. One or several leaves on a single shoot may be aected. Control can be accomplished in the home garden by simply pinching o and destroying infected leaves. Disease activity usually stops with the advent of warm weather. Camellias are occasionally attacked by root rot. e entire plant or a section of the plant gradually weakens and dies. It is not possible to control this disease once the plant has been attacked. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed. Since the disease is soilborne, soil treatments are necessary before replanting. Fungicide recommendations can be obtained from your local county Extension oce (http://solutionsforyourlife.u.edu/map/)Acknowledgementse author wishes to thank the following reviewers of this publication: Gary Knox, UF faculty; Jerry Conrad, Erinon Nursery and member of the Camellia Society of Central Florida; and Eileen Hart, Master Gardener and member of the Tampa Bay Area Camellia Society. Also thanks to Robert Bowden, director of Harry P. Leu Gardens, for photos. Figure 3. Tea scale (on left); spider mite injury (on right) Credits: Harry P. Leu Gardens


5 Table 1. Camellia varieties for Florida landscapes Variety Flower color Season of ower Flower size and form Plant form Growth rate Comments Camellia japonica and hybrids Charlie Bettes White Early Large to very large, semidouble Compact Vigorous Debutante Light pink Early to midseason Medium, full peony Upright Vigorous Heirloom, prone to leaf drop when young Delores Edwards Light orchid pink Early to midseason Large, semi-double to anemone to peony Upright Medium Non-reticulata hybrid Early Autumn Lavender rose Early to midseason Medium, formal double Upright Medium Gigantea Red marbled white Midseason Large to very large, semi-double anemone to peony Open Vigorous Very large owers, hard to nd Kramers Supreme Red Midseason Large to very large, full peony Compact, upright Vigorous Fragrant Mathotiana Red Midseason to late Large to very large, rose form double Compact, upright Vigorous Heirloom, available with dierent ower forms and colors Pink Perfection Shell pink Early to late Small, formal double Upright Vigorous Heirloom, dicult to establish Pope John XXIII White Midseason Medium to large, formal double Upright Vigorous Professor Sargent Red Midseason Medium, full peony Compact, upright Vigorous Withstands direct sun Rena Swick Pink with darker veins Midseason Large, semi-double Upright Medium Variegated ower form exists Royal Velvet Red Midseason Large, semi-double Compact Medium Sea Foam White Late Medium to large, formal double Upright Vigorous Sweetie Pie Pink Early to midseason Large to very large, semidouble Upright Vigorous Occasional red stripes on petals Taylors Perfection Light pink Midseason to late Very large, semi-double Open, upright Average Non-reticulata hybrid Walter Bellingrath Light to rose pink Midseason to late Large, loose peony to anemone Spreading Vigorous Grows in full sun Camellia reticulata and hybrids Dr. Cliord Parks Red Midseason to late Very large, semi-double to peony Upright Average Always a good performer Frank Houser Red, variegated form available Early to midseason Very large, semi-double to peony Spreading, open, upright Vigorous Best C. reticulata for Florida, but hard to nd Camellia sasanqua, C. hiemalis, C. vernalis, and hybrids Bonanza Red Early Medium, semi-peony Upright, dense Vigorous Cleopatra Rose to light pink Early Medium, semi-double Compact, upright Vigorous Also known as Sawada Cotton Candy Clear pink Early Medium, semi-double Spreading, loose, upright Medium Jean May Shell pink Early Large, rose form double Compact, upright Slow May be dicult to nd Kanjiro Rose Early Small to medium, semidouble Upright Vigorous


6 Mine-no-yuki White Early Small, semi-double to loose peony Spreading, willowy Medium to vigorous Profuse bloomer, also called Snow on the Mountain Setsugekka White Early Large, semi-double Large, upright Vigorous Good understock for grafting Sparkling Burgundy Rose pink Early Small to medium, peony Upright, compact Vigorous Stephanie Golden Hot pink Early to midseason Medium, semi-double Upright, dense Vigorous Shishi-gashira Red Early Small, semi-double to rose form double Dwarf Medium Yuletide Red Early Small, single Compact, upright Medium Prominent yellow stamens Fragrant hybrids Cinnamon Cindy Rose pink with white center Early to midseason Small, peony Upright to spreading Medium Cinnamon fragrance, non-reticulata hybrid Fragrant Pink Deep pink Early to late Miniature, peony Spreading Medium Non-reticulata hybrid High Fragrance Ivory pink with rose edges Midseason Medium, peony Open Vigorous Sweet Emily Kate Light pink Midseason to late Medium, peony Pendulous Slow Non-reticulata hybrid