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By Hank

Cheshire, United Kingdom Gb

Have just bought my daughter a Japonica Camellia, 2 ft 6 ins tall with 2 red flowers. We know nothing about caring for it. A few pointers would be much appreciated.



I know they need and acidic environment - such as rhododendrons, magnolias & azaleas do. Give it something like Holytone by espoma - something for acid loving plants; dappled sun part sun; plant in sheltered location protected from harsh winds.

7 Mar, 2020


They are hardy, but the flowers tend to be easily damaged by frost, so best put on a south or west facing wall. Or, if in a pot kept in a cool conservatory over winter and summered outside.
Re-pot in ericaceous compost and feed with a dedicated feed. Most places sell a Camellia feed.

8 Mar, 2020


Camellia does not like soil that dries out frequently, so they are often planted in part shade areas where that's less likely to happen. Avoid planting where early morning sun can hit the plant during winter - if the flowerbuds are frosted and the sun hits them, they tend to drop off, so afternoon sun is better.

The soil must not be limey (alkaline); they grow well in neutral to acid soils. If gardens surrounding your daughter are growing rhododendrons, Acer, Pieris and particularly blue mophead hydrangeas in the ground successfully, then it will be fine in the ground. If she only ever sees pink hydrangeas growing in the ground, that's a clue that might mean the soil is not suitable.

Can be grown in a pot in ericaceous potting soil for probably around 4-6 years with potting on into larger pots as necessary, but after that time they start to suffer a bit because they want to be quite big shrubs. Its important to keep them well supplied with water during summer, because that's when the flowerbuds for the following year are forming - if they don;t get enough water at that time, they may not produce flowers.

8 Mar, 2020


Thanks very much guys, have forwarded your suggestions to her. the plant had 2 small red buds when I bought in a week ago - now, at her house it has 4 flowers and 6 more buds toward the top.
What height is Is it likely to end up, and is it eventually going to end up outside ? ( after 4 to 6 yrs hence ?) can it go outside before this time ? Pruning ?

8 Mar, 2020


It really should be outside now. If it has been kept indoors in a temperature warmer than outside acclimatise it gently, bringing it in or at least under shelter at night for a few weeks. It should reach at least 8 feet eventually but it takes a long time.

8 Mar, 2020


Thanks for that Sue, have passed it on

9 Mar, 2020


They also like good drainage: heavy, sticky clay is a no-no, as is a high water table. Here in the desert, they do best in terra cotta pots, in what we call "cactus mix", a chunky, fast draining potting compost usually used for cactus and succulents, but good for anything that likes excellent drainage. Of course, here, acid fertilizer is a must.

9 Mar, 2020


Not sure about that Tugbrethil, we grow them in London clay here and they do just fine, in fact, rather better than they do in light, free draining alluvial soils... unless the soil is alkaline. There's a12 foot one round the corner from where I live that's currently in full glorious flower - its a red one and its smothered in blooms.

9 Mar, 2020


Hmm....Well, one thing that I have noticed about plants is that the higher the soil temperature, the more oxygen the roots seem to need. Probably just a problem with my area, and California, too, from what I have read.

11 Mar, 2020


That may be the case - there has to be another environmental/weather explanation for your experience of growing them because, as I say, they grow really well in clay in our maritime climate here. But then we rarely (if ever) get the sort of heat and general aridity you experience... its a complicated business,which plants will grow where ....

12 Mar, 2020

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