If someone were to ask me, “What is my favorite flower”? Without hesitation I would say the Camellia. The camellia with its different array of bloom sizes, multi colors and variety of shapes, it seems every flower has its own personality.
According to the authors of “Louisiana Gardeners Guide”, Dan Gill and Joe White, October through February is ideal since you can see the flower color on the container plants before you purchase them. Camellias perform best in acid soil with the filtered shade of tall pines, but they can handle full sun too.
Dig a hole twice the width of and slightly deeper than the rootball. Add slow-release fertilizer to a good quality soil mix and pack several inches of the mix into the hole. Firm the surroundings and add more mix until the top of the rootball is slightly higher than the surrounding ground. When the soil covers at least half the rootball, stop and fill the hole with water. After the water soaks in, backfill until only a shallow depression surrounds the base of the plant. Construct a mini levee, apply a thick mulch of organic materials, and water thoroughly.
The Louisiana Gardner’s Guide suggests fertilizing with an azalea/camellia food at label rates in late February just before new growth starts. Feed lightly at half the suggested label rate in the months of September. To meet Camellias high water demands, consider using drip irrigation lines under the mulch. Keep soil moderately moist. Always maintain thick mulches.
Prune, as needed, just before spring growth to control plant density and form or to remove dead, diseased, or insect-riddled parts. Well-timed applications of broad-spectrum fungicides may help prevent some of the fungus problems (discolored spots on leaf surface). Many gardeners use systemic insecticides to control scale insects (whose presence is indicated by white material on the leaves’ underside).
Camellias are well suited for tub culture as specimen plants, and considerable numbers are grown in greenhouses for winter protection. A semi shaded spot on a patio or terrace is perfect for a tub specimen. Trim off the bottom limbs of old plants to convert them to a tree form. Plant in border or island beds in combination with holly fern, multi-seasonal azaleas, and gardenias.