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BellaOnline's English Garden Editor


In the language of flowers

Camellia means admiration, perfection and is a good luck gift for a man.

To give someone a pink camellia means you are longing for them.

A red Camellia means you are a flame in my heart.

Whilst to give someone a white Camellia means you adore them and they are perfect.

Camellias were first brought back to England around 1740 and became a must in the gardens of the wealthy landed gentry.
During the reign of Queen Victoria they were very popular as Victorians liked the shape and colours of the flowers and their dark evergreen leaves.

Today they are still very sort after and the blooms have a pleasant delicate scent and in shape are similar to those of peonies or water lilies. The flowers come in a range of colours – red, pink and white being the most popular.

Camellias flower all Spring - March to May. They look good at the back of a perennial border as they flower early in the year with new buds opening as the first fade or drop off and then their evergreen leaves make a lovely background to show off the later flowering perennials.

They can grow into quite big shrubs 6ft by 6ft - 2x2m but will grow very well in large tubs.


Camellias need to have a sheltered spot in light shade. They do not like strong sunlight but will grow even there if they have soil that does not dry out.

The best place is a west facing spot where the early morning sun will not reach them. Because if the flower buds have frost on them, the early morning sun will make them thaw too quickly and this quick thawing makes the buds go brown and drop off before they open.


Camellias they prefer neutral or acid soil, although they will grow in slightly limey soil, if it is well drained and fertile. Prepare the soil before planting by adding plenty of organic matter i.e. leaf compost and well rotted manure. Don’t use mushroom compost as this usually contains lime which your camellia will hate!

They grow well in large containers and you will have no worries about the soil as you can use a bag of ericaceous compost.

Camellias need watering during the summer months as too dry a spell in summer can cause the flower buds to drop off in the winter.


Camellias should be deadheaded as the petals fade in order to tidy up the plant and prevent energy being wasted on setting seed. The flowers of the white varieties will usually turn brown if there is too much rain or wind for their liking!

Varieties to look out for

Hybrids of Camellia williamsii make good English Garden plants.

Try Donation which is pink flowered
Ava Maria is a soft pink

Camellia Beau Harp has bright red blossoms
Adolphe Audusson has deep red flowers
Jupiter is a lovely red camellia.

Francis Hanger and Angel are white as is the double flowered Alba Plena.

Brushfield´s Yellow has soft pale yellow blooms

Contessa Lavinia Maggi and Tricolor have white petals that have streaks of red.

Enjoy your garden

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