Last Updated: September 9, 2023

Camellia Japonica (Common Camellia)

By Published On: May 12th, 20232.3 min readCategories: Garden, Photos, Plants

Last Updated: September 9, 2023

You hardly notice the camellia until it blooms, but when it does, it’s quite a show

A camellia in flower

A red Camellia Japonica blooming in May

Most of the year you hardly notice the camellia here at the acre. Its dense foliage and willingness to be cut and shaped make it a perfect backdrop for the exotic looking gingers, callas, and bananas in the tropical garden. It also does a good job screening that part of my old house from view.

But every spring, usually beginning in late March, it turns from an unremarkable green hedge into a 15-foot-tall wall bursting with big, bright red flowers that demand your attention.

A red camellia shrub in full bloom

The camellia in bloom in May

The flowers are fairly good-sized, about 4 inches across on average, and the plant blooms continuously throughout the spring. Better yet, it requires little-to-no water, and, unlike my forever whitefly-ridden hibiscus, has no pests that I know of (unless you count the occasional nest of mockingbirds who are very territorial).

A camellia japonica flower

This camelllia has a “formal double” type flower

The flowers are the “formal double” form, but I have no idea what the subspecies is. However, thanks to an old manila envelope filled with house documents from the previous owner, I do know it was planted in 1987 after the master bedroom addition, making it about 37 years old.

Currently it’s 15 feet tall, but in early summer, after most of the flowers are done, I cut it back to 9 feet which is even with the roofline and lets the late afternoon sun shine on the lower leaves. The foliage grows in extra dense and provides the perfect amount of shade to keep this stucco house cool during the hottest part of the year.

I suppose my only complaint about the camellia is the mess the flowers make. It blooms prodigiously and regularly drops masses of old flowers, which are wet and slippery if you walk on them.

camellia flowers lying on the ground

The tree is quite messy when dumping it’s blooms

All considered though, it’s not a bad price to pay for a plant that’s easy to grow as well as easy on the eyes.

Camellia Japonica Specs

Plant Details
Common Name Japanese Camellia, Camellia
Botanical Name Camellia japonica
Plant Family Theaceae (Tea family – can be brewed as tea too)
Native to Asia
Plant Type Shrub (can be pruned to tree form)
Mature Size 7-15 ft. and 5-10 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial (best out of direct sun)
Soil Type Any (not picky)
Soil pH Any (not picky)
Water Moderate. Needs more when young
Bloom Time Winter, Spring
Flower Color Red, Pink & White
Hardiness Zones 7-9 (USDA)

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About the Author

author avatar
Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.

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