Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica is truly the queen of gardens in warm climates and a wonderful tub plant. Its fascinating flowering can begin in November and end in March-April. To date, more than 2,000 ornamental varieties with simple, semi-double, terry, peony, anemone and other magnificent forms of flowers with white, pink of different shades and red petals have been registered.

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

However, many species of camellias in their homeland are also of purely practical importance.

Camellia sasanqua with more than 300 beautifully flowering garden varieties of China and Japan has been cultivated for many centuries, not for the flowers that bloom in the fall but to obtain vegetable oil from seeds. The source of high-quality edible oil is also camellia oil seed, and it is also used in horticulture to obtain decorative hybrid varieties with high winter hardiness.

And of course, everyone knows the Tea Bush – Chinese camellia, from the leaves of which the world-famous tea is brewed. By the way, a similar drink can also be prepared from the leaves of Camellia Japonica and other species.

Basically, we receive varieties of Japanese camellia. Sometimes you can find on sale small bushes of Camellia Chinensis.

How to grow and care

Camellias are considered demanding plants, but much depends on their proper planting.

They grow steadily in the open ground in frost hardiness zones of 7-10 USDA, when temperatures do not fall below -17 °C, and only some varieties, subject to protection from the winter sun and wind, can be planted in zone 6, they can withstand frosts up to -23 °C. In our gardens, camellias can be grown in the Sochi area and in Crimea. In other regions, they are kept as container plants. It is not recommended to keep camellias indoors all year round. Our apartments are too warm, dry, and dark for their successful growth. If plants have to spend the winter at home, you will have to pay attention to temperature, humidity, and light.

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

Illumination

Camellias are forest plants and prefer a little protection from the scorching sun.

At home, place pots of camellias in a cool place so that the oblique rays of the sun fall on them. During the summer months, take the plants out into the open air, on the balcony or in the garden, protecting them from the scorching sun.

In the garden, plant the shrub in a light openwork partial shade, although with careful watering, camellias can be grown in an open sunny place. Young plants are more sensitive to the sun, in adult bushes, the shadow falling from the crown protects the roots from overheating and thereby increases their resistance to the sun. Choose a place that is protected in the cold season from strong winds and bright morning sun.

Temperature

Camellias do not tolerate heat well, prefer cool conditions, but most varieties do not tolerate even small frosts – bring them home in time, without waiting for the roots to freeze. From September to flowering, which can occur in February-March, keep the plant at a temperature of 0 … + 10 °C. If the temperature during the opening of the buds is high, then they can be dangerous. Flowers will last longer, for several weeks, if the temperature in the room is in the range from +7 to +16 °C.

In the garden, give preference to more winter-hardy varieties, where flowering will occur a few weeks later than that of container specimens in greenhouses. Protect the plants from the sun with a grid.

Ground

Camellias are commonly found on humus-rich acidic (pH 6-6.5) and well-drained soils and do not grow well on calcium-rich substrates. For a potted plant, a ready-made acidic peat soil with the addition of about 1/4 of the volume of perlite is suitable.

To fill the planting hole in the garden, it is better to prepare a special soil consisting of equal shares of top peat, coniferous earth, leaf humus and sand. On heavy clay soils from below, it is necessary to make drainage from broken bricks.

  • Soils and soil mixtures for indoor plants
  • Transplantation of houseplants
Camellia japonica (Camellia japonica)
Camellia japonica (Camellia japonica)

Irrigation

Most species do not tolerate even short-term drought. In their habitats, the soils are always rich in moisture, but without stagnation of water. Keep the soil evenly moist, water immediately after the top layer dries. Overdrying or overwatering during the laying of flower buds in the summer will cause them to fall.

Plants are demanding the quality of irrigation water. Too hard tap or well water will gradually lead to the accumulation of calcium salts, which will cause alkalinization of the soil near the roots. It is ideal to use soft rainwater for irrigation.

Air moisture

For normal growth, camellias require high humidity. Regularly spray the leaves from a fine sprayer, and if the air in the room is too dry, then install a humidifier with cold steam.

Feeding

Camellia japonica blooms in winter or early spring and, as soon as the buds become noticeable, the plant begins to be fed with a special acidic fertilizer for camellias or rhododendrons, preferably with a high potassium content. Fertilizing stops with the end of flowering.

Camellias in the garden are fed only in the spring, after the fall of flowers, and in early summer, if the growth is sluggish or the leaves have lost their deep green color. Use special acid fertilizers for camellias or azaleas. The introduction of alkaline fertilization requires additional acidification of the soil. Do not water with blood residues and do not apply bone meal, as this also leads to a decrease in the acidity of the soil. For the same reason, ash fertilization is strictly prohibited. If chlorosis occurs, additionally feed iron chelate or ferocity, acidify irrigation water.

Cropping and shaping

Different varieties, which are often hybrids of several species, can vary greatly in the timing of their flowering. Japanese camellias lay flower buds in the summer on young growth. Pruning at this time will lead to a lack of flowering, so it is carried out only in the spring, immediately after the fall of flowers.

Camellias that bloom at other times are also pruned immediately after the end of their flowering.

During pruning, remove dry and weak branches. If the bush is so dense that it is difficult for the flowers to open normally, then cut out some of the branches inside the crown. Shorten the lower branches to stimulate vertical growth, and shorten the upper ones to stimulate branching. Make the cut just above the place of last year’s pruning, this usually leads to good branching.

If necessary, you can rejuvenate the plant or reduce its size, camellia tolerates even strong pruning.

Removal of small buds on the sides of a large terminal contributes to better disclosure of the latter.

Transplantation of

potted camellias are carried out in the spring, after flowering, every 2-3 years or if necessary, when the roots have mastered the entire volume of the soil well. It is carried out by careful transshipment into a pot 2 cm larger in diameter. Large container plants are limited to replacing the top layer of soil.

Reproduction

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

To preserve the characteristics of the camellia variety, it is necessary to propagate vegetatively – cuttings, cuttings or grafting.

At home, cuttings are used. In summer, the semi-woody shoot is cut off and rooted according to the standard technique in the soil or peat tablets using root formers, in greenhouse conditions.

For specimens growing in the open ground, it is convenient to use the method of diversion. To do this, in the summer, a long shot is tilted downwards, the leaf is removed at the point of contact with the ground and the bark in the kidney area is gently wounded, this place is treated with a root formation stimulant, then fixed with a hairpin and sprinkled with soil. Leave until the next season, and then carefully separate from the mother bush and plant a young rooted plant.

Camellias from seeds grow much more slowly and bloom later than those grown by other methods (cuttings, grafting or cuttings). Seedlings can bloom only 6-8 years after sowing seeds, and their flowering is unpredictable in quality.

Seeds are extracted from ripe fruits when they turn brown and crack. Viable seeds are large, about the size of a pea. They are washed and planted no later than 12 hours in individual cups or tablets, not allowing the seeds to dry during this time. Shoots appear in about a month.

Possible problems in growing camellias

  • The fall or absence of flower buds can be caused by a lack of moisture in the summer when buds are formed, as well as an excess of fertilizer or sudden hypothermia.
  • Yellowing of the leaves, chlorosis can be caused by alkalinization of the soil (when the pH exceeds 6.5), this prevents the absorption of nutrients by the roots. Acidify the soil, use soft water for watering, water potted plants with water with the juice of any citrus (1-3 drops per liter).
  • Scorched or yellowed areas in the center of the leaves are sunburns. Protect the leaves from the scorching sun, do not allow the substrate to dry out.

Diseases and pests of camellias

Camellia japonica
Camellia japonica

Camellia galls are a fungal disease that causes the formation of swelling on the leaves, as a result of which they acquire a white-cream, and then brown color, later fall off. At the first sign of the disease, remove the affected parts of the plant.

Camellia is susceptible to root phytophthora, the disease is most dangerous when the roots overheat in combination with stagnation of water. Do not put the pot with the plant in the sun and do not overwater the soil, especially during the heat.

On the camellia, there is a yellow spot virus. The disease is not treatable.

Camellia is affected by various types of shields, especially tea shields, weevils, aphids. If a pest is detected, treat the plant with Aktara or other systemic insecticides.

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