Camellias make an attractive gift for Christmas, with the dark glossy evergreen leaves and buds full of promise, ready to flower in late winter or spring.  For flowers at Christmas time, Camellia x williamsii types are the ones to choose.  These start to flower in November and should be in full of flower  by Christmas.

Why not wall train a camellia on to trellis? One plant could cover a 6x3ft panel or larger width if desired.  Ideal for a north or west facing wall.  Alternatively, plant them in a border with other ericaceous plants like evergreen azaleas and  Pieris japonica.  Hydrangeas also make good companions as they start to flower soon after the camellias finish.  The autumn foliage and fading flowers of Hydrangeas make a pleasing contrast to Camellia foliage and buds.

The flowers are usually pink or white, sometimes bi coloured, and pale yellow forms are available.
They come in many different forms from  single to paeony, anemone, rose or formal doubles.

(some of the varieties we have in stock:  John Tooby, Matterhorn, Spring Festival, Dr King, Anticipation, Jury’s Yellow.)

Confusion sometimes arises over the best conditions for camellias.  Undisputed is their preference for acidic soil, although they will grow in neutral soil.  They are usually associated with woodland planting, but can be grown in full sun or deep shade.  Some c an even be used as a wind break – x williamsii varieties such as ‘St Ewe’, ‘Anticipation’ and ‘Debbie’, for example.  In general, camellias are a lot tougher than they are given credit for.   It’s true that the flowers do not always persist for long on the plant and may be damaged by a late frost.  Early morning sun can be particularly harsh in its effect, possibly causing buds to drop.  Hardiness however, is not an issue.

 Position your camellia with some shelter from drying wind and in light shade.  This is particularly advised with white flowered forms which tend to go brown if exposed to bad weather.   

The ideal soil is well drained and acidic, although they will grow in neutral soil.  They do well in containers, but be sure they do not dry out when the buds are forming in August and September. 

Feed regularly from March till June with a dilute liquid feed such as Vitax Seaweed plus sequestered iron
-the sequestered iron helps prevent or cure leaf yellowing which may occur due to a build up of calcium.
This is also why it is better to water containerised plants with rainwater if possible.  From July, switch to a high potash feed such as a tomato feed.  Stop feeding in August and water well.