What to use it for
Can be grown as a wall shrub or in a container, as well as a border or specimen plant. Could also be used to create an informal hedge or in a woodland setting.
Camellias are typical cottage garden style plants, but are striking enough to be used in more urban gardens.
How to look after it
This is a pretty low maintenance plant, just needing pruning as required. If late frosts are expected, or very cold winter temperatures, it would benefit from protection such as a fleece covering.
How to prune it
If you wish you can deadhead your camellia regularly (daily if possible) to remove the unsightly, browning older flowers.
Prune Camellia japonica during or just after flowering in the spring.
To train a young camellia to be a bushier plant, cut all long, leggy stems back to 2 to 3 buds, removing any weak stems entirely.
Once established, if the plant becomes very bushy, you can remove some of the smaller inner branches to allow more light to reach the centre of the plant. You can also prune the previous season’s growth back to just above the old wood to encourage a bushy habit and/or to restrict the size.
Generally Camellia japonica and its cultivars will respond well (though slowly) to renovation pruning. In early spring cut 1/3 of the main branches back to 60cm above ground level. Repeat this in the two subsequent springs until all the main branches have been cut back. A mass of new shoots will appear from the pruned areas – thin these out to create a new framework. Don’t worry if the new shoots don’t appear until midsummer, this is normal!
How to propagate it
Can be propagated from internodal or nodal semi-ripe cuttings from midsummer to early autumn. Nodal cuttings will produce flowers more quickly, in 3 to 4 years.
Simple layering can also be effective. In spring, layer a low-growing shoot which is maximum 12mm in diameter and allow 2 years for rooting to take place before severing and lifting the new plant.
Camellias may also be hybridised.
Other useful information
The genus Camellia was named by Carl Linnaeus after the Jesuit Priest Joseph Camel.
The camellia was first brought to the West in 1692 by Englbert Keampter, Chief Surgeon to the Dutch East India Company. He brought details of over 30 varieties back from Asia.
This cultivar was developed in Australia by Keith Brushfield in 1970.