What is Camellia?

Alison Faria
Alison Faria
Green tea, which is made from Camellia sinensis plants.
Green tea, which is made from Camellia sinensis plants.

Camellia is a plant that is native to China, but has also become popular across the southeastern United States. They can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 m) tall, and their flowers can grow to be 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide. Typically, the flowers have rounded petals that overlap, similar to a rose. Another prominent feature of camellia is the leaves, which are silky in texture and remain deep green throughout the year.

These plants usually flower from late winter to the early part of spring. There are over 3,000 hybrids, varieties, and cultivars of camellia. The overall genus was named after a Jesuit missionary named George Kamel, who traveled throughout Asia studying flora.

The best type of soil for these plants is generally thought to be moist, acid soil, but the they are usually adaptable. In the early part of the morning, the sun can sometimes cause the flower petals to become brown and limp, so some people like to place camellia plants on the western side of a structure. After the flowers have fully matured in the spring, they can be pruned.

Sometimes camellia is planted alone, because it can sometimes overtake other plants. Mulch is usually put at the bases of the plants, since they have shallow roots that need to be protected. Flower buds should be covered during a frost. Partial shade is usually considered to be ideal, but if they are planted in a colder climate, they will need more sun.

Uses for camellia vary, but in landscape design, they are used in formation hedges and in borders. They can also remain in containers as long as the container sizes grow in proportion to the plant's growth. If maintained regularly, they can adapt to urban climates. In order to flourish, camellia needs to be watered on a regular basis, but usually the soil should not become soggy, since that can produce mold.

These plants are considered to be hardy, but they can attract scale insects that can damage them. Scale insects are gnat-like insects with special mouthpieces that they use to drink plant juices. They can be avoided by using insecticidal sprays on the plants, as well as petroleum oil sprays. Typically, they only work if they are sprayed directly on the insect. Petroleum oil sprays are often preferred because they are non-toxic to humans and pets, and more environmentally friendly.

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    • Green tea, which is made from Camellia sinensis plants.
      By: NataliTerr
      Green tea, which is made from Camellia sinensis plants.