Camellia Growing Guide

5 Steps to Camellia Success

  • Choose a sheltered spot, protected from harsh midday sun, strong winds and frosts. Spring is the best time to plant camellias in New Zealand.
  • Prepare your soil with organic matter like compost and sheep pellets.
  • Add a layer of rose & shrub mix to plant into. 
  • Feed after flowering and once again during its growing season.
  • Water regularly to keep the soil moist, and mulch around the plants to protect its shallow roots.

Follow our full guide below for quintessential camellias.

Classic camellias love to put on a show. These hardy evergreens are tough to beat when it comes to durability over the cooler months. When the temperature drops these pretty, sometimes fragrant, blooms appear in all colours, shapes and sizes.

Camellias are ideal boundary and background plants, can easily be trained into a hedge or along wires and almost any camellia will grow in a pot. They are ideal for picking and last for days in water.

3 steps to GROWING camellias

prepare 

Camellias thrive in cool, moist, acidic soil. If you’re not sure what kind of soil you have take a look around the neighbourhood – if your neighbours can grow camellias chances are you can too!

Camellias can be grown from stem cuttings but take a very long time, so it's best to find a plant at your local garden centre from early autumn to late spring.

With so many camellia varieties it can be hard to choose which to plant! Some autumn flowering varieties to look out for are Early Pearly, Paradise Blush, Jennifer Susan and Jean May. For blooms in winter through spring try Congratulations, Donation, Fairy Wand and Anticipation.

Cinnamon Cindy, Roger Hall, Nicki Crisp and Kramer's Supreme varieties make great hedges, while Quintessence, Spring Festival, Yuletide and Sweet Jane are ideal for pots.

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. Prepare the site well before planting by digging in sheep pellets and Tui Compost. Mix in well to make it easy for the roots to anchor themselves. 

Then you can add a layer of Tui Rose & Shrub Mix, a specially blended planting mix for roses and shrubs including camellias. Camellias thrive in acid soil conditions, so avoid using garden lime or dolomite lime around them as this will alter the soil pH. If your soil is too alkaline (you can check with a soil test) applying Tui Acid Food can be added at planting time. 

If planting in pots and containers, fill with Tui Rose & Shrub Mix.

PLANT 

Warm spring soil is perfect for planting camellias and the best times to get them in the ground are early in the morning, or late in the day so the plants aren't exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting.

Choose a partly shaded area to plant the camellias. You may need to stake them if the soil is very light or they're in a windy spot.

Directions for planting in garden beds

  • Soak your camellia in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic before planting and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
  • Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball.
  • Partly fill the hole with Tui Rose & Shrub Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
  • Fill in with Tui Rose & Shrub Mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your camellias well and continue to water regularly, especially over summer.

Directions for potting plants

  • Soak your camellia in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic before planting and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
  • Half fill your container with Tui Rose & Shrub Mix
  • Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead plant material and roots.
  • Position the plant in the centre of the new container and fill with Tui Rose & Shrub Mix up to 3cm from the top.
  • Gently firm mix around the base of the plant. The mix should be at the same level on the plant as it was in the previous container.
  • Water your camellias well and continue to water regularly, especially over summer.

Camellias are shallow rooting which means they can dry out easily, adding a layer of Tui Mulch & Feed will maintain soil moisture, especially over summer, and protect the root zone.

nourish

Feed your camellias and they will reward you with a gorgeous winter show.

A well watered, well nourished garden will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. Camellias need a lot of water in the summer while the new growth hardens and the flower buds emerge.

While your camellias are growing regularly apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost. As a plant tonic this can be applied between feedings.

Feed with Tui Acid Food immediately after flowering and once again in the growing season, or with Tui Enrich Rose, Camellia, Azalea & Gardenia controlled release fertiliser if your camellia is in a pot. 

Applying Saturaid once a year will hold water in the soil and make sure your camellia gets the moisture it needs.

Camellias are very forgiving plants and can cope with pruning at any time of year. Removing any dead or spindly branches will encourage new growth. Cut them back where you want the plant to become bushy.