Your garden will always be cheery with color, even on gray winter days, when you add camellias to your plant mix.
“Camellias are great for winter interest both for their foliage and their blooms,” says Mike Andruczyk, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Chesapeake.
“Each species or cultivar typically will have blooms for two to four, even five months, each fall to spring. Great plants for winter foraging bees. Easy to grow as long as you have some shade (preferably filtered and/or afternoon shade) and good drainage. They like acidic soils which we naturally have in most parts of Southeastern Virginia.”
If you are curious about camellias, join Mike for the “Camellias in the Cove” event anytime 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Chesapeake Arboretum. Small guided tours of the garden every 15 minutes will point out interesting features of all the camellias in bloom. A staffed table set up in the arboretum parking lot will direct visitors to the tours, and answer any questions. Information about becoming a garden volunteer and membership in the Virginia Camellia Society — genserva.com/vcs/ — will also be provided. Admission is free; parking will be available at 624 Oak Grove Rd, Chesapeake (off Battlefield Blvd. near the Chesapeake General Hospital). For more information, call 757-424-9605.
“If you have never been to Camellia Cove at the Chesapeake Arboretum this will be a treat,” says Mike
“It features more than 200 different varieties of camellias at a site off the greenway trail, which features a mature hardwood forest and multiple trails. The Camellia Garden has been undergoing expansion, redesign and improvement for the past year and a half. Almost 100 members of the American Camellia Society from all over the country visited our site last spring on a coast-to-coast Camellia Trail Garden tour and National Convention.”
Visit Camellia Cove, an American Camellia Society Trail, at the Chesapeake Arboretum
There are two major camellia species — the fall-flowering C. sasanqua and late-winter and early-spring blooming C. japonica — and different types of flowers, such as double, anemone form, single, etc. Camellias are cold hardy in zones 7-9 and often to Zone 6b.
Camellias are relatively easy-care plants that need a planting site with at least afternoon shade, never full sun. They also need good drainage and acidic soil, such under pine trees. Give them a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants when they finish blooming.
Lady Clare camellia
Camellias are pruned immediately after they finish flowering. Prune to remove crossing and rubbing branches.
“Pruning can be done now to ‘thin’ out the plants which can help with shaping the plants, keeping them smaller, blooms bigger, and reduce habitat for scale insects too,” says Mike.
Anna Celeste camellia
Note: Mike has filmed segments segments on Camellia Planting, Air Layering that will be airing after Feb. 13 on the Virginia Flower and Garden Virtual Show — http://vafgs.org/index.html
Photos courtesy Mike Andruczyk