Camellia sinensis is also known as the tea plant. Its leaves are dried and crushed to make tea. In Zone 8 or warmer, Camellia sinensis is an outdoor plant, but with the proper care it makes an attractive indoor potted plant. Camellias are sun-sensitive so protect them from strong sun and heat. Plants that are growing beyond their space can be pruned after flowering. Camellias are long-lived plants: they can live well beyond 100 years indoors and out.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Acidic potting mix
- Pebble tray or humidifier
- Spray bottle for misting
Plant young plants in an acidic, well draining potting mix. Fill the pot almost full and make a small mound of soil in the middle for the plant to rest on. This prevents the plant from settling into the soil, which is detrimental to camellias, whose shallow root systems do not tolerate being planted too deeply.
Place the pot in partial sun. Camellia sinensis must be protected from strong, hot sunlight. Move containers outdoors in the summer to a partially shaded spot.
Provide adequate humidity. Mist the camellia's foliage regularly. You can also try running a humidifier near the plant or placing the pot on a pebble tray. A pebble tray is a tray filled with pebbles and water, but the water does not touch the bottom of the pot. It supplies additional humidity.
Water Camellia sinensis regularly while it is actively growing. Make sure the soil surface is dry before watering; too much water will rot the roots. Lightly mulch the camellia with bark chips to conserve moisture.
Place the plant in a cool sunny location---6 hours of sunlight per day but no colder than 1.67 degrees C--during the winter. The cold helps it develop buds the following season and without a cold treatment, the camellia may not flower.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid transplanting older plants. Young plants take well to transplantation, but once older plants are settled, they prefer to stay where they are. If you believe that transplanting is going to change the size of your camellia, try pruning it down to the size you want instead.
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