Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Camellias


Winter has arrived in North Florida, and we still have several more weeks before spring planting to avoid the chance for frosts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have color in your landscape now! Camellias are evergreen shrubs that brighten the cooler months with stunning, colorful blooms in January.

Camellias have adorned Southern landscapes for around 200 years. Many types of camellias are available and offer sizes ranging from dwarf varieties to the larger camellia japonica. These Japanese camellias often grow to heights of six to 12 feet but can be larger if older. They can reach six to 10 feet in width and produce flowers in white, pink and red. Consider the growth potential for your selected camellias when adding them to your landscape.

Because camellias are low maintenance and can live for many years, they can be ideal landscaping plants. Camellias prefer partial sun — ideally morning sunshine and afternoon shade. Plant them in shallow holes to expose the top of the plant’s crown (the area of the plant where the stem meets the roots). Be sure your camellias have at least five feet of space between them and other trees and shrubs so that they are not competing for water and nutrients. Camellias prefer well-drained but consistently moist soil. Regular watering is essential, particularly during the first year after planting. Rainfall may be enough for more mature plants as long as extra water is given during dry periods. If needed, prune camellias during summer months before new buds appear.

Camellias can serve many purposes in your landscape. Use them to establish a foundation for landscape beds, to create borders or hedges around your yard, or to accent with pops of color for winter months. Grouping several camellia shrubs together can enhance their impact in a landscape.

Happy planting!

Flower of the Week: Camellia

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.