Camellias have fascinated gardeners for hundreds of years. They bloom through the fall, winter and early spring, a time of year that most garden plants are sleeping through. Bloom times are species dependent. Camellias hybridize readily so there are hundreds of varieties. Our focus here is pollinators so we will focus on the single flowered forms that allow easy access to the abundance of pollen and nectar in Camellia flowers.
Historically in the United States Camellias have been a plant for the deep south but breeders have expanded their hardiness north to zone 6 with a protected planting site. This is still the southern part of the country but is much farther north of the zone 8 varieties of old. Tea Camellias remain a tender perennial that must be brought indoors during the winter.
Camellias grow to 12′ tall over time and their evergreen foliage is a welcome sight during the drab brown and gray winter months. They prefer a moist soil with afternoon shade if available. They do not like standing water or extended drought conditions.
Below are descriptions of the varieties we have:
Spring Blooming Camellias:
April Blush is a slow growing compact Camellia with a heavy set of blushed pink semi-double flowers. The flowers are still open enough for the bees to work them.
The April Dawn Camellia is a vigorous upright grower with a heavy set of pink and white variegated double petaled flowers. It blooms mid to late season in the spring
The April Melody Camellia is a rose red single camellia. It blooms from January through April with more flowers toward April. It has 2 1/2″ to 3″ diameter flowers with bright yellow stamens and pistils in the center. These are exposed in these single flowers so honeybees and other early season pollinators can easily access the pollen and nectar.
The April Melody Camelia grows compact and erect from 5′ to 8′ tall and is hardy in zones 6 to 9. Plant in a protected location in zone 7b and all of zone 6 for best results. It will need protection in winter if temperatures approach single digits and below.
Mulch camellias to conserve moisture and cool the soil. All camellias benefit from afternoon shade in summer.
April Rose Camellia is compact and upright in form with lots of rose red medium sized double petaled flowers. It is hardy to zone 6 in a protected site.
April Snow Camellia is a lovely white flowered camellia. Like most of the Camellia japonicas, it blooms more in late winter and early spring with the most flowers in March and April. The flowers are double petaled with the yellow stamen exposed when fully open and are 3″ to 5″ across. Flowers will be larger if they are thinned.
April Snow has large leaves and makes a lovely evergreen shrub. Prune after bloom since blooms are formed on last years growth.
April Snow is hardy in zones 6 to 9 and will grow to 5′ to 8′ tall. All hardy Camellias need a protected location and even a little extra protection when temperatures drop below 10 degrees.
Springs Promise Camellia is a long season blooming Camellia. It will have flowers from late fall through winter into early spring with the most appearing in early spring. Flowers are single, 3″ to 4″ across and are pinkish red with yellow centers. The stamens and pistils are exposed and are easily accessible by bees and other early pollinators.
Springs Promise Camellia is hardy in zones 6 to 9 and will grow to a height of 5′ to 8′
Like all Camellias, it likes moist soil but not standing water. A mulch will help keep the soil cool and afternoon shade will keep it from getting sunburn during summer. In northern areas, planting in a protected location will help protect from winter injury.
Fall Blooming Camellias:
Long Island Pink
Long Island Pink Camellia is a hybrid Camellia with exceptional hardiness. It shows off its double pink flowers in mid-fall against a backdrop of large dark green leaves. It will need a protected site and possibly some additional protection during spells of severe cold in the more northern areas.
Long Island Pink is hardy in zones 5b to 9. It has a compact growth pattern growing to 3′ to 5′ tall
Northern Lights is a fast growing upright Camellia. Its white flowers are unusual for a fall blooming Camellia. Flowers are single in form. Hardy to zone 7
Yuletide Camellia is a Camellia sassquanna and is a fall, winter Camellia. It has small dark green leaves and bright red flowers with bright yellow centers that open in December and January. Because of its bloom season, covering it on cold nights will help keep the flower buds from freezing.
Yuletide Camelia is a little more tender than some of the other Camellias we offer. It is hardy in zones 7 to 9 and will grow to 6′ to 10′ tall. It has an upright growth pattern.
The Small Leaf Tea Camellia is the source of our favorite beverage Iced Tea. It is a half hardy shrub that can be grown outside with protection in zone 6. If brought indoors during winter it can be grown much farther north.
Tea Camellias of course produce leaves that when dried can be used to make tea but they also bloom in fall every year and the small single flowers produce a nectar and pollen source for honeybees and other pollinators.
This is a unique edible plant that is steeped in history.
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April Blush, April Dawn, April Melody, April Rose, April Snow, Springs Promise, Long Island Pink, Northern Lights, Yuletide, Tea Camellia