Camellias bring vibrant color to winter landscapes

November 6, 2020

With their shiny green leaves, compact growth habit and unique blooms, camellias are the winter queen of flowering shrubs.  Worldwide, there are about 250 different species of camellias.  In the landscapes of Northwest Florida, the most commonly grown species are Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica and hybrids of these.  Collectors and botanical gardens may have Camellia reticulata, Camellia hiemalis, Camellia vernalis and hybrids of multiple species.

The young leaves of another camellia species, Camellia sinensis, are processed for tea, one of the world’s most common beverages.  The various species of camellia plants are generally well-adapted to acidic soils, especially those rich in organic material.  Camellias require consistent watering, particularly once the flower buds are set.  Most species prefer protection from direct sun during the heat of the day and will bloom well in significantly shaded areas.  Individual species and cultivars bloom seasons vary with growing climate. Camellias are classified by their blooming time, ranging from early to late season, relative to other camellias. For extended flowering, plant a variety of cultivars. Early-fall bloomers begin in October and re-bloom through January.  Long-bloomers add a few months with flowers from November to April.  Camellias that start opening in January and continue through March are referred to as mid-season bloomers.  Spring blooming camellias are the last to flower, from March to May.  When deciding on particular cultivars also consider the various flower shapes.  There are six flower forms, with changes in number of petals and appearance of stamens.

Camellias do come with a few potential pest problems.  For information refer to: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/camellia-pests-and-problems.html

COVID 19 has resulted in many cancelled events.  But, you may find a local camellia show to see some the fantastic blooms of many different cultivars.  Here are a few options:

December 12, 2020
Pensacola Camellia Club, University of West Florida, Conference Center & Ballroom, 11000 University Parkway, Building 22, Pensacola, FL, Skip Vogelsang, (850) 776-7951, lbv3rd@gmail.com

January 10, 2021
Northshore Camellia Club, Southern Hotel, 428 E. Boston St., Covington, LA, Show Chairman: Hunter Charbonnet, hcherbo1@gmail.com, Contact, Judges’ Chair & Show Reporter: James Campbell, rivercamellia@bellsouth.net, (985) 630-9899,

January 16, 2021
Ozone Camellia Club, Slidell Municipal Auditorium, 2056 Second Street, Slidell, LA, Show Chairman: Jim Campbell, rivercamellia@bellsouth.net, Show Contact: Bruce Clement, (985) 259-5527, bwc555@charter.net, Show Reporter: Stella Allen,

January 23, 2021
Camellia Club of Mobile, The Shoppes at Bel Air, 3299 Bel Air mall.,Mobile, AL 36606, Show Chairmen: Walter Creighton & Larry Heard, larry_heard@bellsouth.net, Show Contact: Larry Heard, (251) 661-9392, Judges’ Chair: Jim Smelley, Show Reporter: Jim Dwyer,

Information courtesy Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County