Mention fall-blooming camellias, and the first thought is most likely the Camellia sasanqua – and, you would be right, as the Southern Living®Plant Collection boasts 17 selections. You would treasure these plants with their deep glossy green foliage, even if they never bloomed. Fortunately, all of them also excel in providing the welcoming blooms, plus “bones” or evergreen structure, needed in the home landscape.
The Southern Living®Plant Collection offers those that reach only 3- to 4-feet in height to those that will top out at 12- to 15-feet. So, whether you want a hedge, an accent, specimen or informal cluster, you’ll find a wide choice. There are a variety of colors and textures with blooms that will leave you mesmerized. You’ll even find blooms that are ruffled, like October Magic® Carpet™ and Jessica’s Ruffles™, to those like October Magic® Dawn™ and October Magic® Inspiration™ that look like they were hand painted by an artist’s brush.
The Southern Living®Plant Collection also features the one we all consider the ultimate Christmas camellia, ‘Yuletide.’ These camellia blooms are adorned with the truest red petals and bright golden stamens set against the backdrop of dark green leaves, which will make you joyful and celebratory with the spirit of the season.
But there is one more that must be called to your attention, and that is Early Wonder®. This Camellia japonica brings our collection to 18, and has turned the gardening world on its head. Can you only imagine – a rose pink, true formal double form Camellia japonica, blooming in the fall?
Thanks to Early Wonder, gardeners can enjoy a true formal double japonica from late September through December, depending on the climate of the season. It is so incredibly unique and beautiful, it has to be at the top of the list of must-have camellias for the garden.
You’ll love the fact that each of these Southern Living® Plant Collection camellias has a wide range of cold-hardiness, as they are recommended for zones 7-9. They are ideally suited for the high-shade or filtered-light garden, though sasanquas can tolerate more sun than most imagine.
Fall is a great time to plant, and inventories of camellias are normally at their highest now. Roots increase dramatically during the cool season, allowing the plant to really get acclimated and take off once growth resumes in the spring.
Camellias require organic rich, well-drained acidic soil. In the landscape, put them in a bed versus surrounded by turf. For a truly exquisite look, use camellias in smaller clusters around or in combination with the Southern Living®Plant Collection’s Robin™ or Oakland™ Hollies. Using in partnership with the fall-blooming Encore® Azaleas, however, will allow you to create a picturesque fall landscape that will rival spring.
Prepare the area for by incorporating 3- to 4-inches of organic matter, tilling deeply. Remember you want to avoid wet feet as much as possible. Dig the planting hole three times as wide as the root ball, but no deeper. The wide holes allow for the quickest root-expansion, and thus acclimation to your home’s landscape. Place the camellia in the hole planting 1- to 2-inches above the soil surface. Backfill with soil, tamp, and water to settle. If needed, add more soil and finish the project by applying a good layer of mulch.
Camellias typically don’t require a lot of pruning. Shape your camellias in the early spring as needed, just prior to the flush of growth. Dead or weak wood can be removed anytime. Feed your camellias with an azalea camellia fertilizer in the spring coinciding with the return of growth. Follow label recommendations and always know you can err on the side of caution – two light applications are better than one big one.
The Southern Living Plant Collection’s camellias have the ability to deliver to the landscape lush evergreen glossy foliage with a succession of blooms from September to December, depending on varieties. There will be no doubt in your mind that the camellia is truly the queen of shrubs.