Camellia bloom before the flowers or early spring.

After centuries of breeding, there are more than two thousand cultivars of Camellia japonica! Additionally, there are more than a thousand cultivars of both Camellia sasanqua, with smaller but more profuse flowers, and comparably rare Camellia reticulata, with fewer but garishly big flowers. This does not even include the more than a hundred other specie of camellia found in the wild throughout East Asia.

It is obviously difficult to generalize about so many different personalities. Actually though, the glossy and slightly serrate leaves of almost all Camellia japonica are surprisingly similar. Also, most grow into rounded shrubs that are happy to stay below first floor eaves. Only a few grow into small trees, and only after many years. All prefer rich soil and regular watering.

The flowers that bloom late in winter are the most distinguishing characteristics of the many cultivars. The largest can get more than four inches wide. Flower form is remarkably variable (and can be described as single, semi-double, double, formal double, paeony, anemone or rose). Many have prominent yellow stamens. Color ranges from pure white to red, with every shade of pink in between. Picoteed, striped and blotched flowers are not uncommon.

4 thoughts on “Camellia japonica

    1. It is nice that they are still appreciated. They seem to be passe here. Some that I work with have gotten too overgrown for their bloom to be prominent. It takes a few or many years to prune them back. There were a few that I merely cut down, to leave only stumps. If they regenerate, they may bloom again in a few years. It would have taken many years to renovate them by tamer pruning, and they may not have responded well anyway.

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    1. Camellia sinensis is rare in home gardens. Now that I think of it, I have seen only a few cultivars, and only in a few collections. We had a single cultivar in the arboretum, and did not grow any copies of it.

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