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Planting Camellias

Camellias can sometimes be a bit tricky to get planted and established but by following these steps you should have a long love affair with your camellia. After all, some of them have been known to grow for over 100 years!

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So when purchasing your camellia you should know that there are different camellias. Some are Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua, Camellia x williamsii, Camellia reticulata, Camellia oleifera and Camellia chrysantha. No matter which one you are growing the basics for planting them are the same.

Where to Plant Camellias

You should choose a site where there is good drainage, protection from winter and summer wind but has good air circulation and gets morning sun and at least partial afternoon shade from the hottest part of the day. 

What You Need To Plant Camellias

You will need a shovel, a hand trowel, a garden hose at minimum. Add some well-rotted compost and mix it in. You want a good organic soil that holds some moisture but is well draining because camellias do not like wet feet.

Camellias Spacing

To determine spacing between plants, you will need to know the mature width of the plant. If the mature width is 6 feet wide, then plant camellias at least 6 feet apart, center on center. If you are growing a hedge or border, you can plant slightly closer than that (5 feet apart in the example above).

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It should also be at least 4 ft. away from a building. Never ever plant camellias or any plant near a furnace exhaust vent which will kill the plants. 

Steps To Plant Camellias

Step 1 - Prepare the area for planting, remove all weeds, rocks and any other debris that might be there.

Step 2 - Loosen the soil with a shovel or garden fork at least twice as wide as the root ball or container and to the same depth as the root ball or container.

Step 3 - Plant your camellia slightly higher to allow any excess water to drain away from the plant. This does not mean planting it on top of the soil so 2 inches is sufficient. 

Step 4 - Water deeply to encourage those deep roots especially while getting the plant established.

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Step 5 - Fertilize once a year with a slow release fertilizer such as Espoma Holly Tone which is designed for acid loving plants. Too much fertilizer and you won’t get any blooms. Do NOT fertilize at the same time you plant.

When to Plant Camellias

The best time of the year to plant camellias is late fall to early spring. Although, you can plant these anytime throughout the year given extra care and attention. The ground should also not be frozen if you plan on planting them.

Best Soil For Camellias

Camellias do best in an acidic soil (6.0-6.5) so a soil test is highly recommended. You can get one from the land grant university in your state. You can contact your local extension agent for more information on where to get one. The soil needs to be well drained so the roots do not stay wet for long periods of time.

As camellias grow, they will develop deep roots to help anchor them into the ground but will also spread out feeder roots to take in moisture and nutrients. While they should never stay soggy, the soil should stay evenly moist.