Camellia Buying Guide

Your yard wants a camellia whether you realize it or not!

If you’ve never heard of a camellia, imagine an evergreen shrub with dark green glossy leaves that emphatically bloom through any winter cold Tallahassee has in store for us. Blooms from these versatile plants will continue to delight through fall and spring. While some have heard of camellias, very few have discovered the amazing shapes, breathtaking colors, and unique varieties they have to offer. Despite the vast number of varieties, finding the right plant for the right spot is as easy as knowing what the options are for your yard.

Professor Sargent

Professor Sargent

How do the “horticultural pros” talk about camellias? Camellias are a very large group of plants that hold those dark glossy leaves all year round. They’re subdivided into two more layers, which species and which cultivar. Species are groups that share roughly similar bloom times, leaf shapes, and flower size although members of the same species can vary greatly in bloom color, shape, and growth habit. Ever heard gardeners or a friend talk about sasanquas or japonicas? Those are just names of different camellia species. Fact: there are around 200 camellia species worldwide! While each species may contain plants that look very different from one another, a cultivar refers to a very specific, genetically unique plant. All members of a given cultivar are actually clones of an original camellia seedling and possess the exact same DNA. This means all cultivars look almost identical from plant to plant earning most of them catchy names like ‘Betty Sheffield’ or ‘Professor Sgt.’

Betty Sheffield

Betty Sheffield

It can be difficult at times to pick a plant for a specific use or even to pick anything at all to plant! This is a perfect instance to see where a camellia could fit into your landscape. Most houses look more like a home with foundation plantings (the row of plants closest to the home). It’s best to have a plant stay small or one that can be kept on the small side, so it doesn’t block your windows, all while wanting it to be aesthetically pleasing. This is a perfect spot for a ‘Shi-shi Gashira’ camellia. It can be maintained from 3-4 ft. tall and has dark pink blooms for months before all the Christmas and holiday festivities. Many times, we’ve seen these blooms last through the New Year. ‘Yume’ flowers are an option for a delicate splash of light pink and white on a shrub easily kept 2-3 ft. tall. ‘Leslie Ann’ is perfect for a narrow space in your garden. It will grow tall and narrow with carnation like pink-edged white blooms in the fall.

camellias

Yume

Sometimes a visual barrier in a part of your yard is needed and appropriate. Large growing bushy cultivars like ‘Professor Sgt.’, with its deep red and extremely ruffled flowers, or ‘Alba Plena’, with its pure white blooms, are the necessary, yet gentle, approach to an area. ‘Pink Perfection’ is also a classic that continues to wow gardeners through the winter.

Whether you’re looking for a scented plant or a centerpiece head turner, there is a camellia for your yard. With organic options to deal with any pests or diseases, camellias require very little and, with the right approach, can bloom almost all year long. Camellias can be big and spreading, small and tight, tall and narrow, low and wide, or almost anything you can imagine. Try not to get fixated on one particular cultivar, just swing by Tallahassee Nurseries and ask the experts to help you find the right camellia for your garden trouble spot.

Love camellia photos?  Check out our camellia page!