Camelia – Camellia japonica – Camellia japonica – Garden plants – Camellia – Camellia japonica – Shrubs

Genus of more than 80 species of small evergreen, rustic trees and shrubs, originating in India, China and Japan. The foliage is dark green, shiny, slightly leathery; during the cold months of the year they produce many fairly large flowers that are divided into various groups depending on the shape (single, semi-double, anemone, peony, double formal and double irregular). The most widely cultivated is C. japonica, which flowers from January until the beginning of spring, together with C.

sasanqua, with less showy flowers, which bloom in December-January. Cultivated for hundreds of years also in Europe, there are many hybrids. The flowers of the camellias have a pink or bank colour, but there are some varieties with red flower and very few varieties with yellow flower; usually, the plants of camellia alternate years with exceptional blooms to years with few flowers.

The camellias are very long-lived, and with the passing of the years they can reach remarkable dimensions, up to 6-7 metres of height.

Splendid examples of camellias, even of very rare varieties, can be found on Lake Maggiore and can be visited at Villa Taranto (Verbania). On Lake Maggiore the first Camellias should have arrived around 1820-1830.

Perhaps not everyone knows that the tea plant is the Camellia sinensis.

In addition, the seeds of Camellia produce an excellent oil used in cooking and cosmetics. In ancient times in Japan, its wood was used to produce high quality charcoal.

Family and gender

  Fam. Theaceaee gen.

Camellia, approximately 70 species


 China, Japan and India

Type of plant

 Trees or shrubs


 Half shadow, evergreen


 They need to be repaired from frost




 White, pink, red, mauve, variegated






 From 50 cm to a few metres


 Seed, cutting

camelia cinnamon cindy

History and origins

In the East, camellias have been cultivated for centuries, both the flowering varieties and the variety from which tea is made (Camellia sinensis). There are even legends about it dating back to 1500 BC.

In Europe (and specifically in England) came initially the flowering camellias, in 1700. They began to spread throughout the West only at the end of that century in famous gardens such as that of the Royal Palace of Caserta and Malmaison (Josephine, wife of Napoleon, already very fond of roses). The most widespread species, from the beginning, was the japonica. Sasanqua (appreciated for its early flowering and light fragrance) was also quite successful.

  • camelia japonica The genus camellia gathers about one hundred species of evergreen shrubs, originating in central and southern Asia; they owe their name to the Jesuit botanist Kamel, who imported them in 1600 in E…
  • Camelia japonica The Camellias belong to theaceae, there are about ten species, among which only a few are grown as ornamental plants; for centuries cultivated in Europe, actually the Camellias belong to theaceae.

  • camellia The Latin name Camellia indicates hundreds of species of evergreen shrubs, widespread mainly in Asia, in Europe in the garden are grown mainly hybrids of camellia japonica, an a…
  • Camelia The genus camellia has more than one hundred species, widespread in Asia, particularly in the area between India, China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea; the most widespread and cultivated species is the camellia sinensis, or…


camelia dr burnside 0601 the camellias don’t fear the cold, and can bear very harsh temperatures; they need to be placed in a quite luminous but semi-shady place, directly exposed to the sun rays only during the coolest hours of the day.

Sometimes it is advisable to shelter them from the wind, especially in areas with very cold winters; if the months of January and February are particularly cold, it may be convenient to cover with agritourism the plants with already formed buds, to avoid that the frost damages the flowers.


C . Japonica

camelia jurys yellow This is a shrub or tree, generally rustic, which can reach ten meters in height. It has dark green leaves, sharp at the apex. Flowering takes place between the end of winter and the beginning of spring. There are a myriad of varieties of Camellia Japonica. It comes from China, Japan and Korea. Its bark is smooth and grey. The leaves are dark green and elliptical, serrated, 5 to 10 cm long. It can reach a height of up to 15 metres and can be used as a large tree or for forming hedges.

The species has red flowers, but the varieties also include white, pink and variegated. They can be simple, double or semi-double.

It blooms from February to May. It is very sensitive to frost (it risks dying or completely losing leaves and buds). It is therefore advisable to let it winter in a sheltered place (especially in northern Italy).

Camellia Hiemalis

camelia adolphe audusson 0630 thick, erect, evergreen shrub. Rustic, with small, lanceolate leaves. Flowers separated in pairs double or semi-double.

Camellia Oleifera

thick evergreen shrub that at the beginning of spring produces large white or pink flowers.

Camellia Reticulated

evergreen, semirustic shrub with oval leaves. Large single flowers in spring.

Camellia Rosiflora

Small evergreen shrub, rustic, with dark green oval leaves. It produces small pink flowers in spring.

Camellia Sasanqua

Shrub or small evergreen, dense, erect, fast-growing tree. Small green lance-shaped leaves. Unlike the Camellia Japonica it grows well in a sunny position. Showy and fragrant flowering that lasts from November to March. It is native to Japan. It can reach a maximum height of 6-7 metres, has thin branches, leaves and flowers smaller than those of the japonica. These are usually simple and more rarely semi-double and range from white to red.

It blooms from November to March and has good resistance to cold. It is recommended to protect it only in alpine areas. Elsewhere it will be sufficient to place it next to a wall or to protect it from the winds.

Camellia Tsaii

Semirustic evergreen shrub with small green lanceolate leaves. In spring it produces small white flowers.

Camellia Vernalis

A fast-growing, erect, evergreen shrub. Green lanceolate leaves. The flowers are produced in winter.

Camellia saluensis

It is native to China and can reach 5 meters in height. It has elongated elliptical leaves and flowers from white to bright red with yellow stamens that stand out. It blooms from February to April. It is more rustic than japonica.

Cross-linked camellia

It’s from western China. It is a little branched shrub with large, opaque green, lanceolate leaves, maximum 15 m high. It has flowers with a diameter of 10 cm, axillary. It requires practically the same cares as the Japonica. It can be considered semirustic and therefore needs winter protection.

Cross-linked camellia

It’s from western China. It is a little branched shrub with large, opaque green, lanceolate leaves, maximum 15 m high. It has flowers with a diameter of 10 cm, axillary. It requires practically the same cares as the Japonica. It can be considered semirustic and therefore needs winter protection.

Camellia x Williamsii

It is a hybrid between japonica and saluensis. It blooms abundantly at the end of winter. It is very branched and has beautiful shiny leaves. It can reach 6-7 metres in height.

Camellia sinesis

It’s the plant that makes the tea. In its natural state it can reach 15 metres in height, but in cultivation it is generally kept at most at 2 metres, in the form of a bush. It has elliptical leaves, 5-10 cm long and 2-4 cm broad, glossy and dark green. The flowers are white. In Italy it is grown exclusively for the flower in the lake area, where the climate is milder. It blooms in April-May.


Annaffiature camelia These plants need regular watering, throughout the year, do not tolerate prolonged periods of drought, so it is imperative to be vigilant, especially the esmplari cultivated inv aso, because the soil ninth sicughi eccssivamente, and intervene with abundant watering.

For a rich flowering and to obtain vigorous arbsti it is advisable to control the humidity of the soil even during the cold months, because the cold winter wind can dry up excessively the aerial opening of the plant, but also the soil.

In autumn, spread mature roganic fertilizer or slow release granular fertilizer around the paintwork.


the camellias prefer acid soils, completely free of limestone; the soil must be soft and deep, rich in humus. It may be convenient to add rtoba to the soil periodically, to avoid that over time it tends to have an excessively high pH. The specimens grown inv aso should be repotted every 3-4 years, using a special soil for acdophilous plants.


The most common parasite is the aphid, an insect that attacks almost all the species mentioned. Very often some varieties from the cochineal.


Potature camelia Generally, camellia plants do not need significant pruning; in autumn, dry or damaged branches are removed; after flowering, all wilted flowers are removed and, if necessary, the canopy is also shaped. To obtain flowers of conspicuous size, it is also possible to remove some buds if they are present in large numbers.


The Camellia can be easily reproduced from seed, even if the best method of multiplication is the cutting, as the plants obtained from seeds of hybrid plants do not produce flowers identical to those of the mother plant. Another technique used is the grafting. Grafting the camellia is often used to replace one variety with another, especially in adult specimens. The best technique for grafting camellias is marzipan grafting.

A piece of a branch with several buds (which is usually cut but can also be the branch of a potted plant) is called a scion. Among the various types of scion grafts one of the most used for camellias is the graft for approximation. This technique consists of creating a longitudinal cut by removing part of the bark of the trunk in each of the two plants (the rootstock and the nest). The wounds will then be matched and will have to be tied tightly with raffia.

After about two months, the rootstock (above the graft) and the nest (below the graft) are cut. The best time to graft is March-April. Split or crown grafts can also be used.

N.B . Since it is preferable for the scions to remain at rest until the moment of grafting, it is advisable to take them during the winter and keep them cool.

The camellia and its meaning

Camelia rosa In the language of flowers, the camellia is the symbol of eternal devotion among lovers. It represents romanticism, love, is a flower that protects and brings good luck and for these reasons it is much appreciated by women if received by their own half.

In Eastern culture the meaning is even stronger, it reflects the strength of love, its tenacity and mutual dedication.

Land and planting

Camellias need a light, moist, slightly acidic and always well drained soil. Ideal are woodland soils or substrates of volcanic origin (acid and very light). It is certainly advisable to grow these plants in the ground only if the soil is already suitable in itself. If, on the contrary, we have clay soil, it is advisable to dig a large hole and completely replace the substrate (perhaps by inserting large underground concrete pots, so that the area remains well insulated).

However, we must pay attention to the irrigation that should be carried out with water as sweet as possible.

Cultivation of camellia in pots

Coltivazione in vaso An excellent alternative (if our soil is basic) is to grow our camellias in pots.

This should not be too large and the ideal is to fill it with an acidophilic plant substrate. On the bottom, of course, a thick draining layer of shards, gravel or expanded clay should be prepared. They will then need to be repotted about every two to three years, in containers of a not too much greater size. The repotting can be done both during the vegetative rest and during the flowering. The important thing is to avoid doing this when the plant is throwing new jets.

In that case we could stop its growth (which is already very slow, of course).


Camellias are plants that prefer the cool shade of the undergrowth. It is therefore ideal to always put them in a similar situation. On balconies it is good that it is, during the winter season, in mid-shade (especially if we live in the North). During the rest of the year it is always better to put it in an area as cool and shady as possible. Usually in the open land are a bit ‘more resistant (especially those that come from our nurseries and then accustomed to our sun).

It is better, however, to try to adapt the same as much as possible to these requirements.

Watering camellia

Camellias particularly like to live in a soil that is always moist but must never become too wet (otherwise radical rottenness will occur). It is therefore necessary to water the plant with a certain frequency: usually in winter it is necessary to intervene at least once a week. In summer it is good to do it every day. It may also be useful to vaporize the leaves of the plants in the evening or in the morning (especially in hot and humid periods).

However, this should be avoided when the plants are emitting new leaves or during flowering (the flowers are very sensitive and would rot quickly).

Camellia fertilizers

These plants usually don’t need many interventions under this aspect, especially if a good substratum suitable for their needs has already been inserted at the beginning. However, after a few years, you can start to distribute a good fertilizer for acidophilic when approaching the flowering period and continue, every 15 days, until 6 weeks after the end of this. It is always necessary to be very careful with the doses and scrupulously follow the advice of the producers.

To avoid exaggeration (and therefore damage to the plant) it is always good to water the plant abundantly after fertilizing. In this way the product will be diluted, the plant will absorb it more slowly and we will avoid unnecessary risks.

Pruning camellia

Generally, camellias do not need pruning because they grow very slowly and drastic action would further accentuate this aspect. Instead, it is advisable to intervene from the earliest years by selectively pruning the individual branches. This will help the plant to look good and give it a fuller and more aesthetically pleasing appearance. If we have very large specimens in the ground, it may be necessary to eliminate twisted branches or strongly compromised.

Frost resistance

Resistenza al gelo camelia Camellias are medium rustic plants. As a rule, they should easily withstand temperatures as low as -15°C, especially when grown in the ground. There may be problems with potted plants, because the cold (especially in the northern regions) could damage their roots (but also their leaves or flower buds). In that case, it is advisable to cover the canopy with a protective cloth and place them in well-lit areas during the day, but sheltered from the cold at night.

It is also a good idea to protect the whole pot by surrounding it with insulating material such as straw or leaves. If we live in alpine areas it is strongly recommended to withdraw them in a cold greenhouse at least during the most rigid periods. This aspect, however, should be explored in particular in the analysis of the individual varieties.

Pests and diseases camellia

Parassiti e malattie Very resistant plants are in this respect. They can certainly be attacked by aphids or cochineal, but usually do not cause serious damage. Therefore it is not advisable to intervene.

They can also be affected by bad white or foliar spots. It is recommended to use specific products, but only if the attack is relevant. In recent years, however, young plants have often been seriously damaged by otiorrincum. Its presence can be detected by observing the margin of the leaves, which must be gnawed. In this case, it is advisable to use geodisinfesting products during the winter so that the larvae (which damage the collar) can no longer grow.


The camellias be reproduced by seed, layering, cutting and grafting. The most advisable is the cutting.

If you want to try to sow them it is good to do so with fresh seeds, as they quickly lose their vitality. It is sown in a mixture of sand and peat at a depth of about 1 cm, then covered with leaves or needles of conifers. They usually germinate in about ten days. They should be transplanted when the taproot has reached about 4 cm in length. The tip of this one will have to be pruned in order to favour its ramification.

Cuttings are made with semi-woody branches in summer. The branch must measure about 8 cm. Only two or three terminal leaves should be left. The cut should be sprinkled with hormones. It should then be placed in containers with a light and always moist substrate and keep temperatures from 15 ° to 25 ° C. Usually they root in two to three months.

The meaning of the camellia

The Camellia is a plant with Asian origins and is especially in Japan and China where it has assumed the strongest symbolic values. The first to attribute a meaning to this plant were in fact the Japanese who have always attributed to the camellia a meaning of refinement and elegance, given by its soft and rounded petals.

The Camellia is also used to express love as a feeling of long duration, as it is a plant with perfect symmetry repeated even in the flowers and then placed in a symbolic way to the couple and the lasting union of two loved ones.

Another important meaning of this plant linked to its flower is that of total trust in the beloved. The calyx that carries the flower in fact supports petals and corolla just as the man supports the woman in love, protecting her and always giving her security.

Camellia – Camellia japonica: Red camellia

One of the most popular camellias is definitely the red camellia, or camellia with red flowers. In nurseries and garden centres, the red camellia, together with the pink camellia and the white camellia, that’s the best-selling type. The varieties of camellia that produce red flowers are actually less than the varieties with white and pink flowers but are appreciated. The camellia japonica is one of the most popular and well-known red-flowered camellias.

However, there are also red camellias of the Sasanqua variety, such as the Christmas camellia, which blooms less noticeably and is less important than the japonica, but still very beautiful.