Camellias & Companion Plants

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Camellias & Companion Plants
Camellia flowers come in both single and double varieties. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Camellias are evergreen shrubs whose large, roselike flowers appear from late fall through spring. The mature height of camellias can range anywhere from a mere 1 1/2 inches all the way up to 25 feet, depending on the exact variety. Camellias require moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter to thrive. A layer of mulch 3 inches deep will help conserve moisture and prevent the roots from drying out.

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Boxwood, juniper, gardenia, azalea, dogwood, rhodendron, hydrangea and daphne are good companion plants for camellias. When growing camellias close to other shrubs, make sure both plants receive adequate water. Be sure the camellia has plenty of room to grow. They are a slow-growing plant that takes a while to establish, so it is best to leave them in place once they are planted. Consider the flower colour of both the camellia and the shrub when selecting them as companion plants. Choose colours that either complement or contrast with one another.


Ferns, astilbe, coral bells, lily-of-the-valley, bleeding heart, epimedium and hellebore are ideal perennial companion plants for camellias. Hellebores are winter bloomers that will often bloom during the same time as the camellias. Coral bells are evergreen, as are epimedium. The difference is epimedium has green foliage and coral bell foliage comes in a wide variety of colours including lime green, purple and peach. Ferns are a moisture-loving plant that will quickly multiply and provide interesting textural contrast. Lily-of-the-valley produce small, highly fragrant bell-shaped white or pink flowers in early spring. Bleeding heart gets quite large, so it is best grown as a companion to camellias that are already established. Astilbe produces colourful summer flowers and provides textural interest.

Grasses And Vines

Bamboo, clematis and Japanese forest grass look right at home when grown as companion plants for camellia. Bamboo can be invasive, so choose a cultivar that is not considered invasive or grow it in a container to control the root system. Clematis planted at the base of the camellia will use the camellia as a trellis. This will not harm the camellia. Japanese forest grass is a low-growing ornamental grass that reaches a mature height of 16 inches. It has a weeping appearance. Some varieties are plain green, some have a white variegation and some are golden-coloured.


Japanese maple, magnolia, flowering cherry and witch hazel trees look good when grown as a companion plant to camellias. Larger trees are ideal for shading camellias from full sun and drying winds.

Since their root systems are larger, the soil near them is often dry. When planting them near trees, dig a large hole making sure to remove any tree roots that could compete for moisture. Amend clay soil with organic matter and fill the planting hole with loose soil before planting the camellia.

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