What factors determine when a camellia blooms?
I have two camellias in my yard. One consistently blooms about 2-4weeks
after the other but when they bloom varies wildly from year to year. My
neighbor has one that always blooms 2-4 weeks before either of mine. They
have started blooming as early as late November. They have almost always
started blooming before Christmas. But this year they have not started
blooming yet and it is almost February. All three are similar in size and
all are on the north side of our houses and close to the wall.
As far as I can tell conditions are very consistent. It has not been very
cold this year. Rainfall has been good. There seem to be a large number of
healthy buds so I assume it isn't a nutrition issue.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Samuel Johnson
Bloom time is dependent on a combination of factors - where you are located,
the type of camellias in question and summer growing conditions and winter
cold. If you can provide more information, we can be more specific in our
pam - gardengal
I am interested in understanding the variation more than predicting the time
I live in Vallejo CA at the North end of San Francisco Bay.
But since the location remains constant it is probably not related to the
large variations in bloom time from year to year.
We seldom have severe frost and the camellias which are somewhat sheltered
have never shown any sign of frost damage.
Summers and winters are moderate but both are a bit warmer in recent years.
The last several years we have had a few (5-10) unusually (104+) hot days
each summer. The Camellias have shown scorched leaves at these times
despite heavy watering.
I try to keep the soil damp and maintain thick mulch of pine needles. But
this too is fairly consistent from year to year.
I fertilize with whatever Camellia/Azalea Fertilizer is on sale. I am not
real consistent about feeding as often as recommended. But it is probably
about the same each year. As I said, the blooms are plentiful and healthy
so I suspect nutrition is good.
Soil is heavy clay, adobe.
The most significant change that I can think of in the last few years has
been to plant some Hydrangeas under the Camellias.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Samuel Johnson
The autumn & winter-blooming camellia cultivars are hybridizations C.
sasanqua, C. olifera, & C. hiemalis, & each cultivar has its own general
behavior. You'll just have to keep a garden diary of when they DO bloom &
for how long, then each plant becomes fairly predictable in behavior when
you're familiar with its past behavior. Some start blooming no later than
October, others wait until January; some bloom from autumn to the start of
spring, others only for three or four weeks. They tend to be predictable
year to year & plant to plant, but generalities cannot be made of all
cultivars collectively. The most strongly cold-hardy varieties bloom
earliest & often bloom longest, because they are showing the most bloom
pattern of C. olifera. The least cold-hardy don't thrive outside of zones
7 & 8 so are very predictable for bloom months everywhere they can be
grown, & info on them frequently gives the exact month when each of these
zone-restrictive shrubs start blooming. But the ones that can tolerate
colder or warmer zones are harder to predict until tested in each zone, &
the reviews won't as often speculate a specific month for everyone, or
will still just give the month expected in zone 7/8 which won't match
everyone's experience. Increasing or decreasing sun exposure I don't
believe will effect them much, but when temperatures drop in autumn will
change by a week or two forward or back when they begin to bloom, & amount
of sun dictates how long each flower lasts (those in shade last longest;
those blooming under eaves where they don't get battered by rainfall last
longest of all).
Overwatering during hot days is not the answer to leaf scorch, & risks
damaging the roots which tolerate droughtiness better than overwatering.
They are semi-shade plants; leaf-scorch usually means they're simply
getting too much sun. If a sun-loving shrub can be planted in the way of
where the sun reaches a camellea during on the hottest month, that can be
enough to change the daily sun to shade ratio in its favor & protect the
leaf appearance. I have two in bright shade that bloom extremely well with
almost no direct sunlight at all, & one in rather a greater amount of
direct sun morning only which also blooms well & never gets scorched.
There doesn't seem to be a preference for bloom power, but for safety
from overheating & leaf scorch is going to make increased shade
I'm only a moderate fan of spring-blooming C. japonica, but these other
species that bloom for winter, these are great marvels for insuring
floweriness when other peoples' gardens are completely fallow.
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
On the east coast, C. japonica's "spring" blooming season can
start in early January, after most of the fall-blooming
Camellia species are done for the year. In the right
location, they can be tremendously effective and provide
flowers when nothing else is blooming.
Like you, I prefer the C. sasanqua species and hybrids, but
then again, I don't have the right location for C. japonica.
Friends who live in the woods nearby have planted dozens of
varieties of the latter, and they are wonderful to behold, all
In my windy, sunny location, I just seek late-blooming C.
sasanqua varieties, which bloom through mid-January. By then,
some of the Viburnum species and Lonicera fragrantissima take
Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a)
(Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
Didn't want to quote your add-on and Paghat's msg, but "what she
said." I would just have said there are a bunch of different
varieties that bloom at different times. Here (SE Virginia) I see both
spring- and fall-blooming types. I'm particularly fond of my bush/tree
because it produced the first blooms (after crocus) I saw my first
spring here -- whoof! what a surprise to find something so lush
blooming in February! I'm sure with different cultivars, one could
have camellia blooms nearly year 'round.
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