Camellia Bushes Care: Ideal Growing Conditions & More

Rich acidic soil, partial shade, and timely taking care of pests goes a long way when it comes to camellia care

How To Care For Camellia Bushes

Masahiro Makino/Nakano Masahiro/gettyimages


Camellias are popular as specimen and foundation plants. These plants will surely bring a splash of color to your garden, even in the darkest and gloomiest winters. When considering these beautiful flowering plants for your garden, the trick is to plant them correctly.


Camellias can be pretty demanding about their location. If you don’t know how to grow them correctly, you won’t be able to enjoy their wonderous bloom.


If you want to ensure that you begin right with your camellia bushes care and grow these plants successfully, a big part is where you plant them. They need plenty of shade and dappled sunlight. It is essential to protect them from cold wind and frost.


Also, the timing is important, make sure to plant them in spring or autumn.

Another critical factor for them to thrive well is soil. They require acidic, loamy soil with good drainage. They love it when the soil has ample moisture and is well-drained.


How To Care for Camellia Trees?

Camellias are flowering evergreen shrubs that feature year-round dark, glossy green leaves. In winter, they display single or double blooms offering a broad palette of colors from bi-colors to the darkest red. They can be planted anytime except during the hottest months. These shrubs are slow growers, but they live exceptionally long.


Caring for camellias is no rocket science. They are pretty simple to maintain if you know how to care for them properly. Here are certain things you need to bear in mind while planting them in your garden.


Plating site

Plating site

Photos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world/gettyimages

If you want to know how to take care of camellia plant, you need to know how and where it should be planted. They thrive in hardiness zone 6-9. Avoid planting camellias in direct sun. Never plant them too deep. Plant them only as deep as they were originally planted.


Space them at a minimum of 5 feet apart as these plants do not like competing for water and nutrients with other trees.



Camellias love well-drained and slightly acidic soil with a high amount of organic matter. The pH balance for these plants is between the 6 and 6.5 range. Go for containers if your soil doesn’t drain well and is clayey.


It is always better to test your soil before planting Camellias, so you know whether to add lime to raise the pH value or sulfur to lower it. This is important for camellia tree care.



Camellias thrive in locations with partial sunlight and shade. They need protection from cold and harsh winds. When planting them in your garden, go for a spot that receives a half day of sun or partial sunlight, like beneath a tall airy tree. Too much sun will cause yellow and scorched leaves, leading to poor plant health.



These plants need to be kept consistently moist. Watering during dry periods will encourage new growth. During bud development, if there is a dry period, then it leads to fewer flowers and a lower petal count. Lack of water can also cause spider mite infestation.


Water the plants if there has been no rain and the top layer of soil, seems dry. Regarding camellia bushes care, the plants should be watered twice a week for a total of 1 inch per week. Though there should be a constant moisture supply, the soil should not be oversaturated or completely dry, as it can affect flower development.



Camellias do not need much fertilizer. Too much nitrogen can damage the leaves and cause them to fall off. Apply a slow-release fertilizer such as 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 in three applications – early spring, late spring, and midsummer. Please stay away from feeding your plants after August, as it will promote new growth that will suffer from the cold temperatures.


Rake back the mulch before applying the fertilizer. The proper camellia bushes care involves spreading ½ fertilizer over the root zone. Scratch it into the top inch of the soil using a garden rake before replacing the mulch. Water the plants deeply for the fertilizer to get into the soil.


Use the fertilizer meant for Camellia feeding. Never use it on container plants. Read carefully and follow the instructions as given on the fertilizer. A pH test of the soil is recommended before adding more fertilizer to your plant.






Talking of camellia tree care, pruning should be done carefully. Prune your camellias as needed. At a given time, avoid pruning more than one-third of the plant. Cut the leggy top growth to encourage fuller growth. Shorten lower branches to encourage more upright growth.


Prune your plant after the frost has passed and the flowers have faded to keep the interior free of dead branches. Camellia flower bud development starts in late summer, so pruning at the wrong time will significantly reduce the blooming. If you notice blight or fungal diseases, prune the branches immediately.



It is possible to propagate camellia varieties from seeds, but it takes a lot of time for the plant to mature. So, there is another method of layering in camellia bushes care and propagation. Let’s take a look at how it’s done:


  1. During summers, take a long stem and bend it to the ground. Make a nick in it.
  2. Loop the stem into the soil in such a way that the wounded area is buried in the ground. Use a rock to hold the stem in its place.
  3. With time, roots will start developing from the wound in the buried stem. Clip it away from the parent plant and dig the offspring to move to another spot.


How To Take Care of Camellia Plants In Pots?

Care of Camellia Plants In Pots

eyecrave productions/istockphoto

Whether in containers or ground, camellias are easy to maintain if you know how to do so appropriately.


Compared to Camellias grown in the ground, the hardiness shifts by approximately two zones for those raised in pots. If you want your plants to survive the harsh winters, go for container plants from two zones colder than your USDA hardiness zone.


Also, ensure the plant is watered well a few days before the cold arrives. During winters, pile mulch around the container and cover the crown with a sheet for camellia bushes care.


Camellias in pots tend to dry out faster than in the ground. So, water them deeply when you feel the top layer of the soil is dry to touch. Allow the container to drain completely. Potted camellias do well in shadier spots. They are ideal for entryways, covered porches, and shaded patios. They need protection from the afternoon sun in the hot summer months.


Since camellias love well-drained, acidic soil, either go for a commercial mix ideal for camellias or mix equal parts of pine bark, coarse sand, oak leaf mold, and coarse peat moss. Make sure that your container has good drainage.


If you live in an area where frost is possible, go for frost-proof containers made of lead, iron, fiberglass, stone, or heavy plastic. Avoid terracotta pots, as they can break in cold temperatures.


Go for one or two pot sizes bigger than the current container. For a 1-gallon shrub, choose a 10 to 12-inch container. Camellias need to be repotted every two to three years, so choose the correct pot.


How To Care for Camellia Bushes?

When it comes to camellia bushes care, the critical part is their protection from the afternoon sun when they are young. However, those plants that do not receive sunlight struggle to flower. So, morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal for these plants. As they start maturing, their heavy foliage will start providing root protection against the sun.


Camellias require acidic and well-drained soil with a pH balance between 6 and 6.5. When it comes to watering, these plants need good irrigation until the root system is established. These plants do not need fertilizer unless they are displaying ill health.


Should Camellia Bushes Be Trimmed?

Like every other plant, pruning camellia helps get rid of dead leaves. Pruning camellias every few years will also help encourage new and bushy growth. Trimming in late spring allows sunlight to penetrate deep into the shrubs. Cutting it back also enables you to transform an overgrown shrub into a tree.


What Month Do You Prune Camellias?

The pruning time for camellia tree care depends on the hardiness zone you live in. Ideally they should be pruned in late spring, preferably in May or June.


Can You Plant Camellias Next To The House?

Plant Camellias Next To The House



It is recommended to plant camellias at least 6 feet away from your house. It all depends on how large you want your plant to grow and allow that much distance from your home.


How To Care for Camellia Trees In The Winter?

Camellias can tolerate low temperatures pretty well, particularly if they are protected from cold winds during short spells of low-freezing temperatures. If stimulated into late autumn, tender shoots will lose their leaves and die. Late feeding or overprotection before the young plants have a chance to harden can also cause their death.


Camellias in pots are more vulnerable to winter. For camellia tree care during winter, you first need to keep your camellias in a sheltered place. Small plants should be shifted to an unheated garage, greenhouse, or shed during below-freezing climatic conditions. Compost should be kept dry, and it should be watered during sunny periods.


Wrap them with several layers of bubble wrap till the ground and just above the rims of the pot. Tie the wrap securely. Cover compost with dry leaves to provide sound insulation.


Early blooming camellias can be protected if they are draped by many layers of horticulture fleece and secured from being blown away.


Suppose the compost is dry; water when necessary, early in the day during a frost-free period.


Which Camellia Problems Should You Be Prepared For?

Camellia Problems

Oscar Yoshinori Toyofuku/istockphoto


Camellias are mostly slow-growing. Even though you grow them in the best conditions, these plants may suffer from diseases and pests. Read on to learn how to care for camellia bushes to protect them from pesty attacks.


1. Petal blight:

Small, brown spots on flowers.

Treatment: Remove the infected flowers and spray the plant with fungicide every two weeks.


2. Scale:

When infected by scales, plants start to turn yellow with lesser number of flowers.

Treatment: Horticulture or neem oil are recommended to get rid of scales


3. Root rot:

Yellow leaves and poor growth, causing wilting and death. Affected plants also display brown roots.

Treatment: Avoid overwatering and make sure that the soil is well-drained.


4. Camellia brown leaf:

Scorched and brown leaves.

Treatment: Avoid planting camellias in direct sunlight. Transplant to a shadier spot.


5. Canker disease:

The infected bark splits open and has pink colored cankers inside.

Treatment: You must prune away the infected branches, cutting 5 to 15 cm below the infected area and use fungicide on your plants. To avoid this situation, plant camellias in well-drained soil.


6. Oedema:

Leaves become swelled up and fleshy with small, green-white galls that later turn brown.

Treatment: For camellia tree care remove affected brown leaves and spray fungicide later. You must also keep a check on watering your camellias and avoid overcrowding them.


7. Sooty mold:

Black-colored leaves that eventually fall.

Treatment: Reduce the watering frequency. Wipe of the leaves and spray anti-fungal spray. You can also use horticulture and neem oil to spray the leaves.


Keep a constant watch on the pests. When found, take immediate action.

Summing Up…

Control over watering, light pruning, good nutrition, and pest control results in beautiful blooms for your garden. Our guide on camellia bushes care will come in handy to deal with any problems you face while growing your plants. Happy gardening!