Common name/s ?

Camellia 'Rubescens Major'

Skill rating




Type of plant ?

Evergreen, perennial shrub.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 4m height and 2.5m spread.

Growth rate ?

Slow; it will reach its full height in 10 to 20 years.

Shape it grows into

Compact, upright shrub becoming bushy with age.

Season/s of interest

Flowers in mid to late spring.

Where to grow it

Happy in part or full shade.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Neutral to acid soil is required to grow camellias. They will grow on clay, loam or sandy soil. They prefer a sheltered position away from morning sunshine (browning of the flowers is increased when the sun shines on petals which are dampened by frost or dew), cold, dry winds, late frosts and extremes of temperature.

Camellia japonica 'Rubescens Major'


Rose pink, double flowers with darker veins on the petals. Glossy, dark green, evergreen leaves of variable size and shape with slightly serrated margins.

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.

Hardwood cuttings may also be taken in autumn to late winter. Pinch out the flower buds on the cutting and give it bottom heat of 12-20˚C for 6 to 12 weeks until rooted.

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.

Seeds can be collected and sown as soon as the fleshy fruits split open. Alternatively, sow them in spring after soaking in hot water. Any resulting plants may not come true to form.

Camellias may also be hybridised.

Common problems

Camellia flower blight can be a problem, particularly in areas with high temperature and humidity. Viral diseases, honey fungus and leaf spot can also occur.

Camellias may be attacked by aphids, scale insects and vine weevil.

Chlorosis of the leaves may occur if the soil is lacking in nutrients such as iron.

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.

Holds the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.