bwisegardening

Cultivating a Culture of Gardening™

Friday, October 2, 2009

Camellias for your winter containers

Some childhood images can never be shaken. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners could only be served surrounded by bowls of camellias, or what my grandma called winter roses, accenting our family feast. When moving to Tennessee after growing up in Georgia I was afraid that this tradition would only remain a memory. But thanks to Dr. William Ackerman, a research horticulturist with the National Arboretum, a cold-hardy camellia collection is now readily available to deepen the link to a true southern garden.

Camellias are happiest when planted on the east or north side and given dappled sunlight. Their deep glossy evergreen leaves allow them to serve as a winter flowering hedge or a background for displaying summer collects of hosta, Japanese painted fern, and impatiens, or the fall color of chelone or anemone. The show-off look of these camellias in a winter container surrounded by Lonicera “Edmee Gold” or Heuchera “Caramel” will keep your holiday guest talking ‘til spring. And don’t forget to bring some blooms inside!

Quick Facts

Common name: Camellia

Botanical Name: Camellia hybrids

Zone 7-9, only a few in Zone 6

Varieties to look for in Zone 6: “Ice Angel ™” series, “Winter’s Fire”, “Winter’s Interlude”, “Winter’s Joy”, “Winter’s Rose”, “Winter’s Charm”, Pink Icicle; “April Remembered” is fast growing and long blooming.

Blooming period: Fall through spring, depending on the variety

Type: Evergreen Shrub

Size: varieties range from 4 feet to 8 feet

Exposure: Light shade and protection from winter wind; Cold hardy to zone 6.

Keys to success

When to plant: Spring is best or Fall with extra winter protection

Soil: Moist, well-drained acid soil; keep mulched year-round

Watering: Camellias are not drought tolerant so keep watered during the summer until established

When to prune: Immediately after blooming

When to fertilize: Spring or Fall

Suggestions for Your Landscape: container planting; hedge row; foundation planting

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