The Tricky Life of a Camellia Tree: Trending Tips & Info - Absolute Gardener

The Tricky Life of a Camellia Tree: Trending Tips & Info

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camellia tree

There are many camellia trees around the world, and each camellia tree has its own unique personality. Some camellias like to be left alone, while others need a lot of attention. It is important for camellia tree owners to know their particular species’ needs in order to keep them happy and healthy! In this article, I will go over some of the common problems that camellia trees face, as well as tips on how you can make your camellia tree feel loved and appreciated.

What is Camellia Tree?

The camellia japonica bonsai tree also referred to as camellia bonsai is from the family of Fabaceae or Leguminosae that also includes acacias, mesquite, and sesame. The camellia tree is not a true flowering plant but an evergreen shrub that has been known to grow into trees as tall as 30 feet. The camellia’s leaves are opposite each other on the stem with one larger leaf at the end of a branch (usually six or seven inches long). The camellia tree bears small, white flowers in clusters of two to five at each node.

Camellias are known for their beautiful flowers, which usually appear in the fall to the early winter season. The camellia flower is often used as an embellishment on clothing and other accessories even though it only appears during certain seasons.

camellia tree

Origins of Camellia Tree

The pink camellia tree is native to China and camellias are not indigenous to any other country. Camellias were discovered in the late 18th century by a French botanist named Joseph Drouhin, who came across them while exploring an area of what would become known as Hubei Province in China. This discovery kicked off camellia farming in China, which led to camellias being introduced around the world.

Camellia trees were introduced into Europe in the late 18th century by Jesuit missionary Father Pierre Marie Heude (1747-1807). Father Heude came to China as a missionary in 1773 and was impressed with the camellia tree’s beauty. Father Heude even sent tea plants back to France, but they did not survive long at their new home.

There are more than 200 types of camellias and they grow up into a tree-like shape with multiple branches. The camellia flower is usually big and beautiful but some flowers can be smaller or have different shapes depending on how well it adapted to a particular area.

Camellia Tree Care Guide

The camellia tree is a common ornamental plant that grows well in colder climates. It’s also one of the hardiest flowering plants around, which makes it perfect for adding to your landscaping outside or inside as an indoor houseplant. However, camellias can be tricky and require careful care if you want them to live long and thrive. Alternatively, you can plant this beauty in a greenhouse.

This camellia care guide is designed to help you know what it takes to keep your camellias happy, healthy, and thriving year-round.


Camellia trees prefer deep, clay-loam soil that is well-drained. As with many other plants camellia trees prefer acid soil so make sure to keep camellias well-watered. The less acidic the camellia’s soil, the more nutrients it will take up from other sources and you will need to fertilize your camellia tree accordingly.


As camellias like light, they should be planted in a location that gets plenty of suns. It’s important to make sure camellia trees get enough light during the winter months when it is darker outside for them to grow properly and produce flowers. Be sure they’re in an area with at least six hours of full sun or more per day. If camellias are not receiving enough natural sunlight, it is possible to use artificial lighting sources such as high-intensity discharge lamps, fluorescent lights or LEDS.


The best time to water camellias is during the morning or afternoon of a sunny day when temperatures range from 45 degrees Fahrenheit (F) to 60 degrees F. Heavy rain can damage camellias, especially camellia japonica.

The proper way to water camellias is done by using a hose with an adjustable nozzle and apply the spray overall leaf surfaces until thoroughly wetted. Too much or too little water will not do any good for camellias.

If your camellia plant has yellowed or brown leaves, this may be caused by too much water.


Camellia trees are more sensitive to temperature than many other plants. If the camellias get too hot, they will wither and die. Temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit can cause camellias to drop their leaves prematurely or stop blooming altogether. If temperatures exceed 95 degrees F for an extended period of time, camellias will more than likely die. They are not suited for colder climates where camellias do not thrive well with the cold temperatures and shorter days of winter (zone one, two, three).


Camellias require moderate to high humidity levels. In fact, camellias can’t tolerate dry air and will suffer from leaf drop in winter if not provided with adequate humidity. The best way to do this is by misting the leaves regularly or placing the plant on a pebble tray filled with water. The camellia tree needs to feel like it’s in a rainforest, so the best time for misting is early morning or evening when humidity levels are at their highest. Keep your camellias out of drafty areas and away from heaters during the winter months.


Camellia trees have a high demand for nitrogen in their soil. It is best to give them fertiliser with an NPK analysis of 15:15:15 (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) or 16:16:24 (phosphorus, potash). You can buy these products in garden centres. Or you can make your own fertiliser by mixing organic materials, such as grass clippings or animal manure with a high nitrogen content.

If you don’t want to buy commercial fertilisers, then add around one cup of whole eggshell per camellia tree into the soil and water it in well. This will release calcium carbonate from the eggshell and provide calcium, magnesium and sulphate. The camellia tree will then use these nutrients to produce energy for its growth.

The other thing you can do is mix a handful of dolomite lime with some water in a bucket or tub until it forms into slurry (a thick liquid). This should be watered around the camellia tree’s roots and then mixed into the soil. Adding a camellia food, such as a camellia enhancer will also help to keep camellias happy.


Camellia trees are toxic and can’t be grown in the ground. If you want to plant camellias, place them on a patio or porch (avoid planters), if possible with camellia ‘Ace of Diamonds’ to mask the toxicity. The camellia oil called “oleoresin” is a natural insecticide but is also toxic to humans.

Camellia trees contain a substance called camellinine which can cause poisoning and has been shown to be harmful in large doses for both animals and people. Camellias are non-toxic if ingested, as long the camellinine isn’t present. The camellia plant is also known as a contact irritant, meaning that if you brush against camellias or get sap on your skin it can cause an allergic reaction such as hives.


Camellias come with many different shapes and sizes. You can find camellias that are tall, wide or even a bit quirky looking. The first step to pruning your camellia is determining the shape of camellia you have in front of you. From there it’s just about following these few steps.

Steps to take before pruning camellia tree:

  • Make sure the camellia is in bloom or has flowers coming up so you can get a better idea of its shape and size. This will be easier than trying to guess while looking at bare branches. It’s also important that your camellia is healthy and pest free.
  • Take a pencil and draw lines to mark the outline of camella tree canopy on the ground. If you’re trimming your camellia, measure how much off should be trimmed from each side so it will have balanced look when done pruning camellias.
  • Determine the camellia’s natural tendency to grow in a certain direction and trim accordingly.
  • Evaluate the camellia tree, then decide how much of it you want left on each side after pruning camellias.

The next step is to make your first cuts:

  • Depending on where you are trimming camellias, you will make vertical cuts with a hand saw. For example, if the camellia tree is on one side of your property line and you want to trim it close to the ground so that there’s not as much garden maintenance in the winter for snow plowing or leaf removal, then take off everything above head height.
  • If you are removing camellias from the front of a house, then cut off just enough to make it even with the ground.
  • You can also use electric or gas shears to trim camellia tree and camellia bushes that have grown too large for their space. Be sure not to remove more than 25% of camella tree’s foliage.
  • The last step is to clean your tools and put them away for the next time you have camellia pruning or camellias trimming needs

Propagation and Growth

Propagation is the process of producing new camellia trees from cuttings, seeds or layering.

Cuttings are taken by cutting a branch with an axe at least one foot long and then wounding it to stimulate growth. The wounds should be left open for several weeks before planting in good quality soil. Seeds can be taken by sowing camellia seeds into well-drained, sandy soil.

The seedlings should be kept cool and moist until they are established in the ground where the full sun can reach them. Layering is done when a branch from one tree grows to touch another tree and then bends over it. This will form roots that allow the growth of a camellia tree.


Camellia trees don’t usually need to be repotted, but if the roots are spilling out of the pot or the soil is compacted and not draining properly; it’s time for a change.

If possible move camellias with shallow root systems in winter so they can rest before spring when growth resumes. If the camellia is too big, dig it out and divide its root ball (or buy a new pot).

To repot camellia tree: Loosen the soil around roots before removing the plant from container to make sure that no dirt falls on leaves or flowers; Pot should have at least one hole in bottom to allow for drainage; Make sure camellia tree is put in a pot with the same size or bigger.

Plant Disease

Camellia trees are susceptible to plant disease. One of the most common camellia tree diseases is leaf spot, which can be recognized by brown or purple lesions on the leaves that will eventually form spots filled with spores and then turn into bumps. Fungal infections may also cause stunted growth while bacterial infections produce a sticky substance on the leaves that can lead to black spots.

camellia tree

Camellia Tree Variegated

Variegated camellias are camellia flowers that come in a variety of colors such as white, pink, red and purple. The variegated camellias also have green leaves on the stem which makes it look like they are lit up from behind with color. These plants thrive when humidity is high but can also be grown indoors without a lot of humidity.

Camellia Sinensis Bonsai

Bonsai camellias are camellia plants that have been grown in a training pot to keep their shape and size. The camellia sinensis bonsais can be pruned, shaped and planted outside where they will grow into full-sized trees or shrubs depending on the variety of camellia tree. These types of camellia trees can be found in a variety of colors including pink, red and white camellia flowers.

Camellias are known for their beautiful camellia flower buds that have five to nine petals each surrounding the yellow stamens inside. The camellia tree has dark green leaves on evergreen plants with smooth or rough camellia bark.

Common Issues with Camellia Tree

Camellia trees are often grown in yards and gardens for their beautiful flowers. Knowing the common problems can help you avoid some potential plant pitfalls:

  • Camellia sap contains an agent that can cause a skin rash, so camellia sap should never be rubbed onto the skin.
  • The camellia shrub is susceptible to many different types of viral and fungal diseases that can be spread through camellia sap, so the more you know about your specific variety of camellia tree, the better.
  • They are susceptible to camellia leaf rust, which can turn the leaves a red-brown color and make them fall off prematurely.
  • Camellia sap is toxic in high concentrations because it contains solanine which is found in potatoes as well. So avoid using camellia sap around vegetables and fruits.
  • Camellia trees are susceptible to camellia flower blight, which is a fungal disease that can cause the flowers to die prematurely

Tips for Keeping Camellia Tree Happy

camellia treeA camellia tree like any other plant needs the right care and attention so they grow to their full potential. Here are some tips on how to care for camellia trees.

Camellias require a certain level of moisture and humidity, similar to the climate in their natural environment which is characterized by warm summers with plenty of rainfall and cold winters. If camellias aren’t getting enough water they will exhibit signs like wilted leaves or browning.

  • In the spring camellias will start to bloom and can be pruned at this time. Dead or damaged branches should also be removed during this process.
  • Fertilizing your camellia tree is a must, in order for them to grow properly they need plenty of nutrients. If you’re using organic fertilizer it’s important to apply it in the early spring and again every six months.
  • Camellia trees can be prone to a variety of pests including camellia moths, camellia borers (caterpillars), camellia scale insects, and camellias whiteflies. If you notice any type of infestation on your camellia tree, act quickly to stop it before your camellias are severely damaged.
  • Pruning and shaping camellia trees is a good way to maintain their shape and size without having them grow out of control. It’s important for the health of the plant that you prune in late winter or early spring when they are dormant.
  • Camellias are a fragile plant that needs to be handled carefully because their branches can snap easily, especially when they’re wet and brittle from the rain or in wintertime.

There’s no doubt camellia trees require some attention but if you care for them properly it will show with how well they grow!

Camellia Tree Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the best place to plant a camellia?

Camellia trees prefer a spot with partial shade and some protection from high winds. It’s also important that camellias are planted in rich soil, but not soggy or swampy to the point where they cannot drain properly.

Is Camellia a bush or a tree?

Camellia is a tree. There are many camellias that grow as bushes, but the camellia bush is not to be confused with camellia trees.

How tall do camellia trees grow?

Camellias can grow to be well over 30 feet tall and produce flowers in the late fall or winter months, depending on the variety of camellia you have planted.

How fast do camellia trees grow?

Camellia trees are fast-growing plants, and some camellias can grow up to ten inches per year. It’s important that you plant your camellia in a place where it will have plenty of room for expansion.

Are camellias messy?

Camellia trees are not messy. They bloom beautifully and make a nice addition to any garden. The camellia flowers produce camellia seeds that can be planted in the camellia tree’s soil or other areas of your property for continued growth!

Do camellias have invasive roots?

Camellias have long, deep roots – they are not invasive.


The camellia tree is a beautiful, easy-to-care-for type of plant that will bring happiness into any garden. If properly cared for, the camellia can live up to 100 years and remain healthy and strong throughout its lifetime. As long as it has adequate sun exposure, water, and a trimmed camellia tree will be a welcome addition to any garden! Get your camellia tree for sale here, alternatively, large camellia trees for sale can also be found at your local nursery.

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