Camellia Bushes in Outdoor Southern Landscaping
What first drew my attention to using these pretty shrubs in outdoor landscaping was the neighbor's house adjacent to my mother's former home in Houston, Texas. It was during Winter and limited amounts of things were in bloom. The pizazz and wow factor of some gorgeous saucer-like blossoms adorning the shrubbery next door practically invited oohs and aahs!
The bushes were planted near the foundation of their home and near the front door.
Seen from the street, the evergreen shrubs laden with large and showy blossoms were pretty. But oh my! Walking up the neighbor's sidewalk to their front door, one was almost forced to slow down and admire the colorful charm of those spectacular camellia flowers.
Both of our homes (my mother's as well as my husband's and mine) were already landscaped with no room to spare for extra plants. But when we decided to sell our homes and find one in which we could live together, we had the chance to change some of the residential landscaping that had already been done at that home.
Already in place was one camellia plant adorning the exterior of the home.
Eventually as we changed out some of the overgrown plants, exchanging them for new, we would plant three new camellia plants.
What already existed in the garden landscaping where we now reside was this camellia plant with the flower pictured above.
These shrubs can sometimes be found with blossoms in a pure white coloration but most often are found in all shades of pink gradations even up to a red. Some have striations of colors. The one above is the darkest color of camellia in our garden which also has the smallest blossom. When fully opened, this flower blossom is about 3 inches in diameter while the largest one in our backyard is about double that size.
Tucked away between smaller shrubbery to the front and larger bushes to the back, when I was recently adding a layer of fresh mulch to our garden beds, I noticed the yellow on the leaves of one of our plants and have since treated it with some ironite.
Camellias just like azaleas prefer an acid soil environment and well drained soil.
In the part of Houston where we live the soil needs to be amended prior to any new planting of trees, bushes or flower plants because much of what is here is thick clay. It becomes rock hard just like concrete in drought conditions and thick and malleable like silly putty during wetter weather conditions.
The cure for this is to eliminate much of this native soil and replace it with a good rich garden soil that offers better nutrients as well as better aeration.
Value of Mulching Garden Beds
We top dress our garden beds each year with a new layer of mulch. It gradually breaks down and decomposes adding to the soil nutrients below. Mulch offers this advantage and more.
Mulch helps to keep the garden landscaping weed free. If weeds do pop up through the mulch, they are generally easier to pull.
A good several inches of mulch also helps to keep the outdoor plants roots a bit warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This is particularly important as we go in to the sizzling days of summer here in the south.
We purchase bags of mulch each year which are the shredded remains of all parts of native trees for the most part. This also adds to the acidity of our soil as many of these trees are pine.
Our camellias as well as other outdoor plants appear to be well tended when the process of weeding and mulching the garden beds is completed each Spring.
This is like putting the frosting on a cake as to the finishing touches of annual Spring-time garden chores at our home.
Native to Asia and from the plant family called Theaceae, there are perhaps hundreds of species but thousands of cultivars now grown all around the world.
Tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis.
The most common cultivar is the ornamental Japanese camellia (C. Japonica) which is the type that graces our garden.
The thick evergreen leaves are pretty year round, but for the several months when the camellia bushes and even those grown as trees are in bloom that is the time of year eagerly awaited by gardeners growing these beauties as well as the public benefiting from their glorious show stopping display of blossoms.
Sometimes I have picked some of the pretty blossoms and float them in a shallow dish of water using them as a table centerpiece. They seem to last in that state every bit as long as had the flowers remained on the outdoor plants.
The camellia is the State Flower of Alabama. They have chosen well!
It is a stunning addition to almost any outdoor landscaping project be it residential landscaping or even commercial.
Fertilizing one's flower plants like the camellia is done after they have finished blooming. It can be done several times during the year leading up to their time of blossoming in the late winter months. The same type of fertilizer that is suitable for azaleas and rhododendrons also is perfect for camellias.
Depending upon the variety one has, one can expect the blossoms to start opening anywhere from late January up to and including April. At least that is the case where we live in Houston, Texas.
After the blossoms have ended for the year is also the time that these bushes should be trimmed to keep them within desired shapes. If cut back later in the year one might inadvertently be cutting off next years flower production.
Provide some partial shade for one's camellia plants and maintain a reasonable amount of moisture throughout the year.
If all of that is accomplished, sit back and be prepared for the pizazz and wow factor of using camellias in your outdoor landscaping. Enjoy these most beautiful of flowering plants!
Do you use camellias in your garden landscaping?
© 2011 Peggy Woods