Camellias in Pots
Wondering how to grow Camellias in pots? Camellia sinesis and Camellia japonica are gorgeous evergreen plants that generally flower in fall and winter. These cold weather bloomers are unique and add beauty to a landscape that has often become barren and dreary. Pick from pinks and reds to white and even bicolor varieties. Brighten up your winter landscape.
Choose Your Camellia
Check the growing zone recommendations. Most camellias grow in zones 7 to 10, but there are a couple varieties that are a bit more cold hardy. Just keep in mind they will be less cold hardy in containers than in the ground. Without extra care growing in containers versus the ground shifts the growing zone recommendation by at least 1. Determine the mature size. Some camellias can get quite large. While any camellia plant can be grown in a pot, larger camellias will need to move into larger containers as they grow.
Pick Your Bling
Choose a pot that has plenty of drainage holes. Camellias do not like sitting water. Pick a container a size up from the existing pot. You don’t want to go too big as this can cause water logged soil. If your plant is in a 1 gallon container do not choose a container larger than 3 gallons (about a 10 inch round pot). For a 3 gallon container move to a 5 gallon (12 inches) if you have a smaller camellia and 7 gallon (14 inches) if you have a larger variety. No matter the pot size you choose it is recommended that potted camellias are replanted every 3 years because the soil becomes depleted and compacted. You can prune an inch or so off the roots and reuse the same pot if you are happy with the size of your camellia. Now that you know the rules, have fun and go crazy. Are you mid-century modern, rustic, or shabby chic.
Location. Location. Location
Camellia bushes prefer some shade. If you are in a tropical climate the shadier the better. Potted camellias look great on patios, porches, and entryways, just be sure your container camellia gets some relief from the sun.
Potting Mix It Up
Camellias enjoy a well-drained, acidic soil. There are commercial mixes specifically for acid loving plants, but most good quality potting soil are going to be on the acidic side.
Water You Gonna Do About It
Watering camellias in pots is much different than watering them in the ground. Plants dry out much faster in pots, even faster the hotter and drier your climate is and the more sun exposure you have. You can mulch the top to help reduce evaporation. Most of the year you may only need to water deeply once or twice a week, but in the hot summer months you may need to water everyday. If you stick your finger deep in the soil and it feels warm and dry it is time to water.
Don’t Go Hungry
Because of heavier water requirements, drainage, and nutrient depletion container grown plants need fed more often than tradition plants. Apply a slow release fertilizer to moist soil in early spring and fall.
If you need or want to prune your camellia plants they tolerate it well. Just be sure you prune soon after flowering has ended to avoid removing young buds which are next years blooms.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
The best way to protect your container plants from harsh winter temperatures is by watering prior to extreme temps. This helps keep the roots at freezing. You can winterize by covering your plant with a sheet or blanket or even wrap the pot with bubble wrap if unusually cold conditions pop up, but you are better off moving your camellia to a protected area. Even close to your home offers great protection as it provides heat and protection from harsh winds. Just keep in mind this plant can handle freezes and snow so I wouldn’t worry too much unless you are experiencing temperatures below 20 degrees or so.
Life on the Inside
If you live in a cooler climate you can move your camellia inside during the winter to a cool area with indirect but natural light. Camellia bushes like humidity. Mist the leaves once or twice daily depending on the humidity level in your home. You can also keep the pot elevated on a saucer lined with rocks and filled with water to add humidity to the air. Just be sure the water line is below your pot so you avoid keeping the soil saturated.Add some spring to your winter with our gorgeous collection of Camellias.