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How to transplant a camellia plant

Updated November 21, 2016

The camellia is a shrub that blooms during the winter, between November and April, with pink or red flowers that are 5 to 18 cm (2 to 7 inches) in diameter, depending on the cultivar. A camellia is an evergreen that retains its green foliage throughout the year. A mature camellia can reach a height of 2.5 metres (8 feet) tall. In areas where temperatures dip below -6.5 degrees C (20F) it is best to transplant the camellia into a pot and move the plant indoors during the cold weather.

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Transplant ground camellia shrubs

  1. Push a sharp spade into the ground to sever the root system. The roots of the camellia are shallow so you only need to go about 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) deep. Use the spade to cut a circle into the soil that is approximately two-thirds of the size of the lowest branches of the camellia shrub. Place a 7.5 cm (3 inch) layer of mulch over the severed soil. Allow the shrub's roots to heal in the ground for three months.

  2. Dig a hole, with a garden shovel, that is twice the diameter as the circle you cut into the soil when it is time to transplant the shrub. The hole must be 1.5 times as deep as the rootball of the camellia.

  3. Mix one part potting soil with one part fine pine bark chips in the bucket. Pour this mixture into the hole to form a mound at the bottom.

  4. Remove the mulch from the base of the camellia shrub and lift it from the hole. If the shrub is large you may need another person to help you lift it out.

  5. Place the shrub into the newly dug hole on top of the mound. The top of the rootball should be 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the ground. Adjust the mound to find the perfect planting height of the camellia.

  6. Water the rootball with a garden hose. Backfill the hole with the displaced soil. Water the area again with at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water. Lay down a 7.5 cm (3 inch) layer of organic mulch to hold the moisture in the soil.

Transplant potted camellias

  1. Choose a pot that is just 7.5 cm (3 inches) larger than the current pot size of the camellia shrub. The pot will need drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the pot to within 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the top with potting soil formulated for container gardening.

  2. Remove the camellia from the pot by holding the main trunk and twisting and pulling out the plant.

  3. Dig a hole in the potting soil the same size as the rootball of the camellia with a small hand shovel. Place the roots of the camellia plant into the hole. Plant the camellia at the same depth it was growing previously. Look for the soil level on the trunk to determine prior planting depth.

  4. Backfill the hole with potting soil. Water the plant with about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water from a garden hose or watering can. Allow the soil to dry out before the next watering.

  5. Tip

    The best time to transplant outdoor camellia shrubs is during late autumn or winter. You can transplant potted camellias any time of the year.


    Do not fertilise the camellia shrub for one year after transplanting.

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Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Shovel
  • Potting soil
  • Fine pine bark chips
  • 22 litre (5 gallon) bucket
  • Potting soil
  • Hand shovel
  • Garden hose or watering can

About the Author

Amy Shelleby
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