Camellias

A quality Camellia is an asset to the home & garden, like this variegated pink beauty.

Camellias are one of the most popular garden plants of all time, and with the enormous choice of varieties and ways you can use them in your garden, it’s not hard to see why. Flowering times vary between March to November, depending on variety, and colours range from dark reds through to whites, pinks and variegated shades.

Buying the right Camellias for your garden can seem like a daunting task with so many different colours and varieties to choose from. Most nurseries carry no more than a handful of varieties, and few carry more than one or two of each, so if you’re after several plants of a particular type you could find yourself running all over town.

Chris & Marie’s Plant Farms can easily solve this problem for you. Not only do we have a large range of camellias in stock, but because we are located right in the heart of the horticultural capital of Victoria, we are in direct contact with top growers like Keith Smith of Gembrook, who are more than happy to deliver plants to the nursery on very short notice. In fact, if you are after specific Camellia varieties or quantities, let us know and we can usually have the plants available for you within a day or two.

The glossy foliage of a Camellia makes it a garden asset, even when not in flower.

When you’ve seen the quality and quantity of plants produced by Keith and Jenny Smith, it’s hard to imagine that their business began as a hobby. After selling their suburban dry cleaning business they decided to retire to the hills and spend a bit of “quiet” time growing Camellias. Nowadays their quiet little hobby has grown into a full-scale operation which sees the two of them working harder than ever before!

Whatever your garden situation, there is bound to be a Camellia to suit your needs. There are over 250 named species of camellias, but most of the popular hybrids available fall into one of three main types, Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua and Camellia reticulata, each one having different characteristics and qualities.

Japonica Camellias

Camellia Debbie
Camellia Desire
Camellia Grand Slam
Camellia Margaret Davis
Camellia Lady Clare

Camellia japonica varieties are the most commonly seen camellias, especially in older gardens, and selected varieties have been in cultivation for well over three hundred years! These camellias are very popular because of their prolific early to late spring flowering, and their large glossy green leaves that make the bush look attractive even when it’s not in flower. A wide range of flower colours and forms are available, from pure white through to pink and deep reds. Single flowered types are the old favourites, with other varieties having miniature blooms, rose-like blooms and double, peony-like flowers that can be quite spectacular. Very similar to the japonicas are the Camellia X williamsii hybrids, which are actually crossbreeds of Camellia japonica and another species, Camellia saluensis.

Japonica camellias are generally quite hardy, although most prefer a bit of protection from harsh sunlight and strong winds, especially the white and pale pink varieties. They are very popular as specimen shrubs in lawns and garden beds where they can be used to create very showy features, and are also useful as screening plants. Some fast growing varieties can be trained as standards and others are suitable for growing in large containers. Camellia japonica is also popular for cut flowers.

Amongst the favourite varieties are ‘Desire’ a luscious double flowered variety with pale pink inner petals edged with darker pink, and ‘Debbie’, a williamsii hybrid with large pink peony-like flowers on an upright bush which is very free flowering. ‘Mark Alan Variegated’ is a compact variety with beautiful wine red blooms splashed with white that are produced over a long period, and ‘Grand Slam’ is a glowing red flowered variety that is really eye-catching.

Sasanqua Camellias

Camellia Plantation Pink
Camellia Setsugekka
Camellia Hiryu
Camellia Jane Morgan
Camellia Queenslander

Camellia sasanqua cultivars vary from the japonicas by having smaller leaves, a tighter, more compact growth habit, and better tolerance for full sun. They are earlier flowering, often blooming from late autumn and right through winter, and as such can be used in the garden along with the japonica varieties to give your camellia garden a longer flowering period. Although sasanqua blooms are not as long lasting, they are generally borne in profusion, creating a magnificent display. Many are also fragrant, with a scent often described as that of a freshly opened pack of tea. Very similar in growth and habit are Camellia hiemalis and Camellia vernalis, which some people regard as being hybrid forms of Camellia sasanqua.

Because of their more compact growth habit and their smaller leaves, sasanquas make excellent clipped hedges, topiaries and espaliers. They are especially good for areas in full sun and can be used in tubs on patios or around pathways. As the flowers only last a couple of days before dropping their petals, they are not as suitable for cut flowers as the japonicas and reticulatas.

One of the most well-known sasanqua varieties is ‘Yuletide’, a delightful orange-red flowering plant with compact growth and glossy green leaves. Other useful varieties include ‘Bonanza’, a deep red peony flowered form with a long flowering period, and ‘Plantation Pink’, which has larger pink blooms.

Reticulata Camellias

These are the real show ponies of camellias. They are generally not as frost hardy as the japonicas and sasanquas, they have a much more open habit, with a sparser leaf coverage. The main feature of reticulatas is their huge double blooms, which have fluted petals and are absolutely spectacular. They are quick growing, making them ideal for growing as specimen trees and standards. Reticulatas need plenty of water, especially after flowering as they put on a huge growth spurt, but they must also have well drained soil. Unlike the sasanquas and japonicas, they do not respond well to heavy pruning, and can be slow to bloom when they are young. When designing your garden, allow plenty of room for Camellia reticulata to spread, and position them in a spot where you can make the most of their visual impact.

ORDERING YOUR CAMELLIAS

To order selected varieties that don’t appear on our website, please call us on (03) 9355 0000 or email us with your name and telephone number, and the variety and quantity you require, and we will source them for you.