Trees

Camellia (Camellia)

The Camellia is a genus of very, very popular shrubs: species that form produce beautiful flowers, very bright colors during the spring and also highlight being too much of a good size.

It is grown especially in temperate climate regions, where the seasons are well differentiated but without reaching extremes.

Origin and characteristics of Camellia

It is a genus made up of about 200 species native to Southeast Asia, China and Japan, where we can find them in tropical and subtropical regions, where there may be frosts but very weak. Most are 2-4 meter bushes, although some can reach a height of 10 meters.

The leaves are perennial, leathery, glossy dark green, with the entire edge or somewhat serrated, and pointed. The flowers are generally large, composed of five sepals and about five petals, although hybrids have been achieved with double flowers, that is, with double crowns, of a great variety of colors: pink, red, yellow, white or even marbled in these shades.

Main species

The best known are:

Camellia japonica

Image – Flickr/ Ray in Manila

The Camellia japonica is the most cultivated species. Native to Japan, Korea and China, it is a shrub or tree that reaches a height of between 1.5 and 11 meters. The leaves are elliptical or oblong-elliptical, with a size of 5-10 by 5-12cm, with a dark green upper surface and a slightly lighter underside. The flowers are solitary or appear in pairs, and measure 6 to 10 cm in diameter.

Camellia sasanqua

It is a shrub native to Japan and China that reaches a height of about 5 meters. The leaves are elliptical, about 3-7cm long by 1.2-3cm long, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are large, 5 to 7cm in diameter, white or dark pink.

Camellia sinensis

Native to southern China, Camellia sinensis is the well-known tea plant, as this drink is made with its foliage. It grows as a bush or tree from 1 to 9 meters, and develops glabrous leaves, with serrated edges, which are 4-15 cm long by 2-5 cm wide. The flowers are axillary, solitary or in groups of 3, they measure 2-4cm in diameter and are yellowish-white in color.

What are the care you need?

If you would like to decorate your garden, patio or terrace with a Camellia or camellia, we recommend providing the following care:

Location

Camellia is a plant that should be, whenever possible, outdoors. You need to feel the passing of the seasons in order to grow and develop normally. But where exactly?

Well, the ideal is that it is in a bright area, but always protected from direct sun since otherwise its leaves would burn.

Earth

  • Pot: it is important that it be filled with substrate for acidic plants, mixed with 30% perlite or similar.
  • Garden: grows in acidic soils, with a pH between 4 and 6, and with good drainage.

Irrigation

Irrigation will be moderate, more frequent in summer than in the rest of the year. In general, you have to water an average of 3-4 times a week during the summer season, and somewhat less the rest of the seasons.

Use rainwater, suitable for human consumption or acidic (pH 4 to 6). In the case of using water with a high lime content for a while, the leaves will have iron chlorosis. This is a problem characterized by the yellowing of the leaves, which are left with green nerves but do not take long to dry and fall.

If your plant has it, you have to water it with iron sulfate.

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During the warm months of the year it is advisable to pay it with a specific fertilizer for acid plants, following the indications specified on the product’s packaging. In this way, in addition, chlorosis is prevented, something that is great when we are not quite sure that the water we use to irrigate is the right one.

Multiplication

Camellias multiply by seeds, cuttings, grafts, and layering.

Seeds

They are sown in autumn, as they need to be cold before germinating, for example in seedling trays with substrate for acidic plants.

To achieve a somewhat faster germination, it is advisable to put them in boiling water for 1 second and in water at room temperature for 24 hours before sowing them.

If all goes well, they will germinate in spring, and will bloom after 4-7 years.

Cuttings

Cuttings are taken towards the middle of the summer, of the branches that have been growing in spring, somewhat woody. These should be about 10cm long, and have a pair of terminal leaves (at the end).

Then, they are put to root in pots with substrate for acidic plants or vermiculite, in semi-shade. Spray/ mist often so that the humidity is high.

To prevent fungi from damaging the cutting, apply a little copper or sulfur to the surface of the substrate when you plant it.

Graft

Cultivars are often multiplied by grafting in spring. For this , the spike graft is carried out, in which both the pattern or rootstock and the spike itself have to measure several centimeters.

Related article:What are grafts and what are they for

Bent

Simple layering is used during the spring. To do this, a branch is buried a bit -which has to grow close to the ground-, and is attached to it with wires or stones for example.

After 1-2 years it can be cut.

Pruning

At the end of winter, dry, diseased or weak branches must be removed, as well as dry stumps and branches that intersect or are incorrectly oriented.

After flowering, the withered flowers must be cut.

Pests

It can be affected by mealybugs, mites, aphids, and rootworms. Treat with diatomaceous earth, potassium soap, or neem oil.

Diseases

When overwatered or heavily sprayed/ sprayed the leaves can be vulnerable to fungi, such as Bold or Phyllostica. So if you see the leaves with black or pink spots, and/ or deformed, and/ or if the flowers fall, do not hesitate to treat with fungicide.

Rusticity

Camellia can resist weak frosts down to -5ºC, provided they are punctual and of short duration.

What uses is it given?

Camellia are used mostly as ornamental plants, either growing them in pots, or in gardens as hedges. As if that were not enough, they can be worked as bonsai, and the Camellia sinensis leaves are excellent in infusion.

What do you think of these plants?

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