Camelia, A Star for the Spring Garden

The Garden Spot


Camelia japonica, is the spring blooming variety of the camelia world and Camellia sasanqua, is the fall bloomer. Both plants have the notoriety of blooming at times when our gardens are in a transitory state. Perhaps this feature has made them the star in so many Washington gardens. Take a look around over the next week or two and you will see the japonica variety doing it’s annual bloom with a multitude of blossoms in pinks and reds and whites, some will be single in nature with a very pronounced set of yellow stamens, while others will be confused for roses with their double blossoms.

Caring for this plant is easy if you can provide the following:

  • Moist well drained soil.
  • Sufficient moisture in the summer, they don’t like to dry out during the hottest months.
  • Shade from the most intense south or west exposures.
  • A slightly acidic soil, pile on the leaf mold or coffee grounds.
  • Protection from the strongest winter winds.

When pruning to shape or reduce the size keep this hint in mind. Spring bloomers can be pruned right after they bloom. The fall bloomers can be pruned in late Feb to early April. You can safely prune them outside of this window but keep in mind that you may be reducing he amount of blooms for the next bloom cycle. And as with most trees and shrubs it is never a good idea to prune in mid-summer!

If you are looking for a shrub that has year-round attractive foliage, an explosion of color in spring or fall, and is relatively low maintenance, this endearing shrub might be the perfect choice for your garden.


Derek “The Garden Guy” Thomas has been nationally recognized for his garden design work. He is committed to the urban waterways movement by teaching and lecturing on the importance of protecting and preserving the waterways of DC and beyond. He plants a garden every year. He runs Thomas Landscapes LLC. He can be contacted at / @thomasgardenguy on twitter. You can find and friend us on Facebook at Facebook/Thomas Landscapes.