How to care for camellias

It is one of those flowers that anticipate spring, adding color to the cold. A wonderful shrub that demands very little. As difficult as you think they are, how to care for camellias is extremely simple. What’s more: summing it up a lot, we can well venture to ensure that by following some very simple guidelines they will take care of themselves. As a good example of the list of shrubs, we are talking about an undemanding plant. And not only that: on top of that, it needs super basic care to thrive and, more importantly, to flourish.

We focus on its flowering because the camellia is one of the most elegant flowers that exist. Originally from Asia, its beauty captivated European pupils in the 18th century. Such was the infatuation of that time that, in just a decade, the Old Continent saw how the camellia became one of the spoiled girls of gardening lovers. A passion that caused it to form part of our landscape in the most natural way today. But not only planted in gardens: another of its benefits is that it can be grown in a pot.

Let’s see in detail how to care for camellias. An evergreen shrub that, with the arrival of December, fills its branches with color and life.


Let’s start by breaking a spear when it comes to how to care for camellias: we’re not exactly talking about a delicate plant. Actually, we could classify it as a bush with a rustic character. Let’s not confuse this with the fact that we can fail to comply with the few basic care that it requires. Just because she doesn’t ask for much doesn’t mean she can thrive in adverse growing conditions. Let’s understand it better: we refer, fundamentally, to the climate. The camellia demands to grow in humid places, with cold in the winter months and without extremes. Let’s understand this point: it does not tolerate excessive heat in summer, as it could burn; nor does it take well to outright frosts, which can freeze the plant.

How to care for camellias is extremely simple. Get this flowering bush here

And, continuing with that list of demands on how to care for camellias, we can add another one: their poor adaptation to changes. Like many other plants, this bush suffers greatly from sudden changes. A compelling reason to know in detail when and how to transplant camellias, but also not to subject it to important modifications in terms of its growing conditions. If you have it in a pot waiting to be planted, the ideal is that its final location is as close as possible to the provisional one in terms of light and wind conditions. Only in this way will it not stop its growth or even drop the leaves, letting us know that it is suffering from stress.

Leaving aside these essential details for their well-being, how to care for camellias will not require much of us. Let’s see it.

1. The location, the most important thing to know how to care for camellias

Probably the most important point of how to care for camellias. As we said, changes are not their thing nor do they tolerate direct sun. Two good reasons for your planting site to receive early morning sun or, failing that, late afternoon. Therefore, yes: it is a perfect shrub to have in semi-shade or full shade, although if you opt for it, it will not bloom properly.

One important thing to keep in mind. If you expose it to the sun in the central hours of the day, its leaves will burn. A detail that is not minor: while the plant tries to recover, we will not enjoy its beautiful flowers. Question of plant vital economy: survival before flowering.

2. The floor, another aspect that we have to pamper

Camellia is part of the list of acid plants. A detail that we cannot overlook, since they are plants that only thrive if they have soil with the right pH.

In a pot or in the ground, an acidic substrate is key for the camellia. Know its characteristics

If we grow it in a pot, it will suffice to use a mixture between a substrate for acid plants and a universal substrate. The important thing is that the acid substrate is the majority percentage. And, you may ask, why universal? Simple: the substrate for acid plants is very light, and quickly evaporates the irrigation water. And the camellia likes humidity.

If we plant it in soil, it is worth knowing its composition. Or directly, to avoid doubts, plant our camellia using a specific substrate for acid plants or, failing that, heather soil or blond peat.

3. Irrigation, abundant and always with soft water

We said that the camellia likes humidity, but not waterlogging! It is more: it is his great enemy. Therefore, in addition to checking that the substrate filters well, it is important that it has good drainage. Only in this way will it be able to eliminate the excess irrigation water, and prosper correctly. If we do, if we overdo it, the plant will warn us: it will throw away the flower buds before opening them. A sign that you are getting more water than you should.

Just as important as being careful with the irrigation pattern is choosing the water well. The camellia does not tolerate lime, so the ideal is to water it with rainwater. What’s more: except in hot months or dry winters, ideally it should be irrigated only with rainwater.

4. Compost, important to promote growth

Camellia is a slow-growing shrub. A compelling reason for us to promote it by using a specific fertilizer for acid plants.

Green plant food will not only nourish the plant, it will also help balance the pH. Check here its characteristics

But be careful: let’s not get carried away by appearances. As it is a plant that blooms in winter, we could believe that the ideal is to pay it at that time. And no. Like the rest of the plants, the camellia goes into vegetative lethargy in the cold months. Therefore, the ideal is to wait for the arrival of spring to pay it properly.

5. Pruning, an important task on the list of how to care for camellias

The last important task on the list of how to care for camellias. And, more than a need as such for the plant, it responds to our interest in seeing it flourish more intensely. Curiously, trimming bushes and trees is usually postponed until July. However, in the case of camellia, the ideal time is mid-February. By then, the plant will have lost its bloom. The ideal is to blunt the branches, cutting above the second or third bud.

We can also simply remove branches or leaves that are in poor condition. A more conservative way to prune camellia that will also pay off.

And, if we are rigorous in how we care for camellias, we can only look forward to next winter. Because it will be then when, in the middle of those days that seem too short to us, its wonderful flowers will emerge. A gift with which nature paints the cold with color and intensity.

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