In a time when not much else is flowering, Camellias fill the garden with their exquisite blooms. Native to southern and eastern Asia, these shade-loving shrubs are not only admired for their flowers in colours of whites, pinks and reds, but also for their glossy, evergreen foliage and compact shapely habit.
There are numerous species of Camellia, but the Camellia types most often grown in gardens include Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica and hybrids between the two.
Camellia japonica (Japanese camellias) are strong growers, ideally planted in dappled shade, and start flowering mid-winter into early spring. Camellia sasanqua (Sasanqua camellias), originating from China, have smaller leaves and are more sun-tolerant than other varieties. Sasanquas flower earlier in the camellia season, from mid-fall into early winter.
DID YOU KNOW? | The young leaves of Camellia sinensis are processed for one of the world’s most popular beverages - tea.
The flowering season of camellias varies with regional climate and cultivar. By planting a variety of cultivars, from early season to late bloomers, you’ll get to enjoy months of floral display throughout the season.
What Camellias want
Camellias are often thought to be hard to grow, however, provided the right care during the planting and positioning stage, camellias will flourish.
Here are a few tips to growing Camellias:
- Plant camellias in autumn when the soil is still warm and roots are encouraged to establish before winter's cold sets in.
- Camellias are acid-loving plants, so before planting, incorporate a few buckets of peat or acid compost in the soil.
- They will not tolerate wet, soggy planting sites, but thrive in well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.
- Most cultivars prefer partial or dappled shade. A bed under an old spreading tree is ideal.
- Excessive heat will scorch flower buds and surface roots, while too much shade will reduce bud-formation.
- Apply a thick layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture and protect root zones in the heat of summer.
- An ideal site provides good air circulation and protection from strong, drying winds.
- Avoid fluctuations in watering during the flowering season to reduce the incidence of bud drop.
- No pruning is required other than the removal of dead, diseased or broken branches. Prune right after blooms end (around September) to prevent removing the buds that will bloom in the next season.
- Give camellias their first feeding in early spring, after flowering and before new buds begin to swell. Give the second feeding in mid-summer to carry them through until autumn when they prepare for rest and beautiful blooms.
EVENT | Vergelegen’s Camellia Garden Tour
Join horticulturist, Richard Arm, as he takes you on a journey of discovery through the over 1000 camellia bushes at Vergelegen.
Come June, July and August we are normally well ensconced in winter but the good news is that this is the prime time to view the pink, red and white blooms of South Africa’s first, and only 'International Camellia Garden of Excellence'.
Relax after the tour with tea/coffee and a selection of cakes at the 'Stables at Vergelegen' bistro restaurant.
Bookings essential for the tour through Stables.
DATE | Saturday, 27 July & Sunday, 28 July 2019
TIME | 09h00 - 10h30 & 14h30 - 16h00
COST | R140 pp (includes entrance fee, tour and refreshments)
BOOKING | Stables: 021 847 2156
VENUE | Departing from Stables at Vergelegen