Camellias (Camellia spp.) are one of the most versatile perennial plants that you can have in the garden. They can be used as a hedge, a feature tree, grown for their outstanding blooms, to make and create tea (C. sinensis) or just to add some colour to the garden on those dreary cooler days. The most common species of camellias are sasanquas and japonicas. Sasanquas are usually the first to flower, starting in autumn, followed by japonicas in late autumn to early spring. 

How to grow camellias in a garden

Camellia's come in a range of single to double blooms and a variety of colours ranging from deep pinks and reds through to pretty light pink, cream and white. Camellias with exposed stamens are adored by bees and camellia flowers can also attract birds.

  1. Choose a well drained spot in the garden that receives the amount of sun appropriate for your chosen variety. Enrich the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser.  In areas with heavy or clay soil, to help improve soil structure and drainage, add gypsum and mix in well.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the shrub from the container, gently tease the roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill with soil, gently firming down. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant's root zone. This helps keep water where it's needed.  Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes..
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like bark chips, sugarcane or pea straw, keeping it away from the trunk.
  5. Water deeply, two to three times a week, depending on weather conditions.
  6. Feed every 6 weeks with Yates Thrive Natural Roses & Flowers Organic Based Pelletised Plant Food during the growing and flowering seasons to encourage healthy green leaf growth, strong root development and lots of beautiful flowers.


How to grow camellias in a pot

  1. Choose a pot at least 400mm wide. Position in a spot appropriate to the chosen variety and fill with quality potting mix, such as Yates Potting Mix with Dynamic Lifter.
  2. Add a small amount of pre-hydrated Yates Waterwise Water Storage Crystals to the mix. These will help hold extra moisture.
  3. Remove the shrub from the container, gently tease the roots.
  4. Position in hole and backfill with potting mix, gently firming down. Water in well.
  5. Once planted, keep the plant well watered but don’t let the water sit in a saucer at the base of the pot.
  6. Feed each week with potassium rich Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant Food to encourage healthy green leaf growth, strong root development and lots of beautiful flowers.

Growing Tips

Camellias are remarkably drought tolerant but the plants will perform at their best if water stress is kept to a minimum.

Watch out for sunburn. Even the sun-hardiest camellia can burn on an extra-hot day, which can lead to leaf fungal problems. You can provide your plant with some additional protection during this period by applying Yates Droughtshield to the leaves.

Camellias make their major spurt of growth after flowering, so it’s best to feed when the last flowers are coming to an end.

Camellias have shallow root systems that can dry out readily during summer so, after fertilising, spread a layer of mulch around the base to retain moisture.

Camellias, as well as azaleas and rhododendrons, prefer a slightly acidic soil (soil with a pH of less than 7). If your soil is alkaline, apply some Yates Soil Acidifier Liquid Sulfur to reduce the pH of the soil.
If you’ve had problems with camellia bud balling in the past, where buds form but go brown and don’t open, an application of liquid magnesium might help. Yates Leaf Greener Magnesium Chelate is a concentrated source of fast acting magnesium that can help correct magnesium deficiency in camellias.

There are three types of Camellias that are grown and available in Australia:

Japonica Camellia (C. japonica)

  • Aspect: Part shade/filtered sun
  • Height: 4-5m
  • Width: 4m

Japonicas have stunning single or double flowers borne above attractive glossy green foliage. Bring their beautiful blooms inside and float them a shallow bowl of water.

Sasanqua Camellia (C. sasanqua) 

  • Aspect: Full sun, with protection from the hot afternoon sun
  • Height: 3-6m
  • Width: 4m

While often used as a hedging plant, sasanquas can also be left to grow into small feature trees. Where space is an issue, consider dwarf forms or espaliering against a wall.

Tea Plant (C.sinesis)

  • Aspect: Part shade/filtered sun
  • Height: 1-2m
  • Width: 1-2m

Grown for the leaf tips rather than the flowers, the new leaves and buds can be harvested and dried for tea (white, green and black). Tea plants can be grown into an attractive hedge or used as a screening plant.

        Reticulata (C. reticulata)

  • Aspect: Part shade/filtered sun
  • Height: 3-5m

These plants are a real show stopper! Reticulatas are mainly grown for their large voluptuous flowers that appear from late winter to mid spring. Due to their open growth habit, they’re best grown as feature trees in the garden.

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Recommended products

Yates Waterwise Storage Crystals

These crystals absorb up to 400 times their own weight in water. This water is then released back to the plants over time as they require it.