Camellias are large shrubs that maintain their dark, glossy green foliage year-round. They feature broad, open blooms in pinks, reds and white, and may grow up to 25 feet in height in some situations. Camellias flower from September to April and bring colour to otherwise-dull winter gardens, but require the right combination of growing zone, lighting, soil and water to grow and bloom successfully.
Plant camellias in fall or spring to give them the best jump on cool-weather establishment. Find a site where the plant will get quick, free drainage, at least 5 to 6 feet of growing space and filtered sunlight. Camellias do best with shelter from wind and bright sun.
Mix 4 inches of organic compost into the top 10 inches of soil in your planting site to give the camellia the loose, rich soil it needs. Prepare a site two to three times wider than the plant's root-ball to eliminate any competitive plants and to ensure drainage in the site.
Plant camellias in shallow holes so that the top of the root-ball sits just under the soil's surface, and pack amended soil in around their roots to eliminate air pockets. Water each plant with 1/2 gallon of water to establish the root systems at planting.
Lay 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch over the soil around each camellia and maintain this layer year-round to keep the soil moist, warm and free of weeds. Water the camellias with 2 to 3 inches of water every week, and monitor the soil for drying during the summer months. These plants are not overly thirsty but should not go dry.
Feed camellias in the early spring of their first growing season, after the new growth starts, to encourage more growth and budding. Give new camellias 10-10-10 fertiliser and amend the soil with organic compost two to three times during the summer. Don't fertilise established plants but maintain organic compost amendments throughout each plant's lifetime.
Camellias are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture growing zones 6 and 7. Camellias set more flower buds than they can support, and lose some of the buds before blooming.