Camellias are roses in winter. These versatile small trees/shrubs of the south are so welcomed in the cold months of winter that I have half a dozen in my landscape. I grow only one Camellia japonica, and the rest are Camellia sasanqua. The camellia sasanqua was the first one I picked up when I moved here and since it is doing so well I have stuck with this species. It is the one pictured. Plus I just like saying the word sas-an-qua. I was hooked when I purchased this camellia as a one gallon shrub six years ago. I planted it on the north side of my house and actually had to move it over four years ago. As you can see, the move did not harm it at all as it is well over eight feet tall and six feet wide.
Camellias are marginally hardy in this area and while there is much controversy on how they should be grown, I have found really only one secret to longevity and good growth-plant them on the north side of something. It doesn't have to be a house. I have a camellia planted on the north side of my deck and two planted in a woodland garden under the shelter of a Juniperus virginiana, aka Easter Red Cedar and a few other shrubs and oak trees. All camellias are thriving.
When I tried planting a camellia on the south side of my deck, the foliage wound up scorched and dry. I think it warmed up with the daily sun which started sap flowing. When the winter night came the leaves froze and lost too much water to maintain a good form. I quickly moved the camellia to the north side of the deck. This particular variety blooms in early winter but I also have two camellias which are spring bloomers, one is blood red and the other crystal white. These two shrubs usually do get nipped by late freezes every year-darn! But they are well worth growing just for the beautiful glossy evergreen leaves.
Camellias like an acid soil with a good mulch. They are not harmed by pests or diseases. This particular camellia sheltered a cardinal's nest this summer. What a joy to have them so close to the house. I was truly glad my pest control cat, Orkin, did not find the cardinals as they are not pests!
in the garden....