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Camellia grooming cutting fertilizing winter
Camellia grooming cutting fertilizing winter
Video: Camellia grooming cutting fertilizing winter
Video: Azalea, Camellia and Rhododendron Fertilizer by Fertilome - Quick Video Instructions by Chad Harris 2023, February

Camellia care is not as difficult as it is often claimed. If you follow our tips for caring for camellias, they will also bloom on time for the cold season.

Camellias were widely used as important crops in China many years before the birth of Christ. They were and still are used to make black and green tea. In addition to the varieties for tea, there are other varieties that are particularly valued as ornamental shrubs because of their beautiful flowers. The Japanese camellia is the best known. It was discovered in the 18th century by the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné.

The camellia probably came to us in the 16th century to be established as a useful plant for tea cultivation. However, since the Chinese wanted to secure their monopoly on tea cultivation, they declared normal ornamental camellias as tea camellias. In this country, the camellia only spread as an ornamental shrub - the English, in particular, already enjoyed this plant very much in the mid-18th century.

All camellias common today - Japanese camellia, scented camellia and all hybrids - originate in Asia. They thrive as container plants in our latitudes, in milder regions even as normal garden plants.

The leaves of the camellia usually have an elliptical shape, are evergreen (dark green top, light green underside) and alternate. The flowers, reminiscent of peony flowers, have striking yellow stamens in the middle and can grow up to 15 centimeters in diameter. In the wild, plants have been discovered that were over 1, 000 years and eleven meters tall - in the garden the mostly upright growing shrubs reach a height of up to four meters.


Outside, camellias are mainly solitary shrubs. They feel most comfortable under large trees and in shady areas. You can combine them with other shrubs or shrubs that have the same soil requirements. Thanks to their origin, camellias are naturally suitable as solitary plants for Japanese gardens. Planted in pots, they are suitable for sunny terraces and balconies as well as for unheated conservatories.

The right climate for camellias


The microclimate on site is particularly important for the camellia.

Photo: Flower Office Holland

The microclimate on site is important for the camellia. That means: If the plant is shady and protected from the wind, cold winds and the winter sun do not matter that much and there are fewer broken shoots and dry damage. The camellia can also survive in less favorable locations or in worse circumstances. But she gets a lot of damage from frost, hardly flowers and grows little - you can see that she was not well over the past winter.

Plant camellias

Camellias bought in autumn should not be planted, but rather wait until the next spring. Keep the plants in frost-protected containers for the winter. Due to the winter in the tub, the camellia will not easily suffer from a lack of water the following winter. If you then plant the plant, you should prepare the soil very carefully. Loosen up properly and incorporate a lot of humus. A drainage of grit or lime-free gravel will protect the camellia from waterlogging. A shady location in acid humus soil is perfect.

If you are new to camellias, the first thing you can do is buy inexpensive plants from the hardware store. If you succeed in planting and you are more confident, then buy larger and more expensive varieties from the camellia specialty shop. In the first few years, it is particularly important that you pay attention to good protection in winter. If you live in a region where early frost occurs frequently, it is advisable to plant varieties that bloom in spring. If there is a risk of late frost, choose autumn-flowering camellia varieties.

Caring for camellias: watering and fertilizing

The roots of the camellia quickly die. Therefore avoid waterlogging but keep it moist throughout. Keep your plants drier from autumn. To do this, remove the coasters and water only when the surface of the root ball is dry. Normal rainwater is best for watering, as camellias are very sensitive to a high lime content in the water. In summer, as well as with other low humidity, you should spray the plants with a little rainwater.


In the garden, camellias are mainly solitary shrubs.


Commercial long-term mineral rhododendron fertilizer is just as suitable for camellias as organic rhododendron fertilizer with guano. The best time to fertilize is when new shoots become visible. Simply sprinkle the fertilizer on the bale. It is best to halve the recommended fertilization on the pack for the camellias, as these are sensitive to salt, but still require a lot of nitrogen. The advantage of slow release fertilizers is the one-time fertilization. However, if you use organic fertilizer, you should fertilize again at the beginning of May. As an alternative to long-term or organic double fertilization, the use of conventional balcony flower fertilizer offers. With this method, however, you have to make sure that you fertilize every two to three weeks. Again, you should halve the dosage recommendation on the bottle.

Caring for camellias: cutting and repotting

Like almost all evergreen woody plants, the camellias can tolerate intensive pruning. But this is actually only necessary for younger plants so that they can develop into bushy plants with beautiful branches. It is best to cut the camellia in spring, before starting the new shoot.

Repot young camellias every two years, and less often older ones. With a low pH and little lime, commercially available rhododendron soil is ideal as a substrate. You can also produce your camellia soil yourself: mix white peat with sand, expanded clay, bark and green compost in a ratio of six to one. The summer months of May, June and July are best for repotting. If you missed the period but notice that the pot is deeply rooted, repot the plant anyway. It survives repotting too late better than a long time in a pot that is too narrow.

Winter protection and wintering

Especially in the early years, camellias need good protection from frost outdoors. To do this, cover the root area with a 20 centimeter layer of bark mulch and envelop the plant itself with a plastic fleece. A ring made of hare wire, which is filled with leaves, or a reed mat are excellent remedies for the cold. Older plants do not need special winter protection - provided they are in a mild region. If winter becomes extremely cold, you should not do without a thick layer of bark humus here either. So that the bark does not burst and the leaves do not dry out, it is important that you do not have the camellia in the blazing sun.


In the first few years, camellias need particularly good protection against frost.

Photo: Flower Office Holland

If it is minus five degrees Celsius outside, you can bring your camellia in - not before! Bucket camellias are perfectly stored in a cold house or weakly heated winter garden at maximum temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius. If you do not have a winter garden or a cool room, you can also place the plant in the stairwell to bridge a frost period. After that, however, you should quickly get them out again, as camellias need the cold stimulus to bloom.

More tips on care

So that the camellia does not throw off the buds before flowering, you should avoid dry heating air or strong temperature fluctuations shortly before flowering.

Propagation of camellias

You can multiply camellias by cuttings. A nursery box with underfloor heating and a bright, partially shaded location provides a good basis for this. However, it can take a few months for the first roots to form - so don't go crazy if it takes a while.

Diseases and pests

Scale insects, mealybugs and black weevils attack camellias during the winter. It has to be said that the fat leaves are particularly nibbled by the weevils. Phyllosticta leaf blotch and camellia dying are typical fungal diseases that can affect the plant. Hardly any measures can be taken against the extremely infectious camellia plague - this disease is expressed in red-brown discoloration of the flower and mold-like coating. Mainly the light-flowered varieties are affected by this disease.

Zimmerpflanzen Sense of Home Shop
Zimmerpflanzen Sense of Home Shop

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