Help - Camellias as fouyndation plants?

Claire4266January 10, 2013

I need serious help from the expert, I am a really big dreamer with not much experience. we bought a house 2 years ago and I have been trying to plan our yard. our front of the house faces North (the house is a two story '27 Tudor, not too high). there are now a couple of tired azaleas and rododendrons, and a couple od overgrown evergreen shaped like balls (about 10 feet in diameter). I really hate it. I would like to cut everything and replace with new plants, and was thinking about Camellias (we have a large, spring flowering Camellia on the west side of the house). the fron faces North and gets virtually no sun during the winter, although it gets sun from the side in the morning and afternoon in the summer (in the afternoon the light is paretially shaded by the neighbor's house and trees). some friends told me that Camellia would not work because they can get very leggy and leave the lower 2-3 feet bare, which would not look good in a foundation. my question is are there Camellias that could thrive and look good in this location? I was thinkig of fall or winter-flowering Camellias, and something that is compact enough that does not get two leggy and bare at the bottom and does not become eventually a big tree. we have windows at about 6 feet that we do not want to cover completely for safety reason (even though now are fully hidden behind the "balls"). I am an enthusiastic dreamer, this is our first (and forever) home after many years of apt living and sometimes I admit I get carried away, but I hope some of the experts on this Forum can help me. thanks so much in advance

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luis_pr

Low growing varieties such as Dahlonega, Mine-no-yuki, ShiShi Gashira, Winter's Dream and Yuletide are excellent choices if you need something that can be maintained at a lower height by pruning.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:30PM
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luis_pr

Keep in mind that when planted near the foundation of new houses, the cement leeches and makes the area alkaline so check the soil with a soil pH kit and see if this is an issue in VA. dave_in_nova lives is VA and he may be able to give additional suggestions if you try sending him a Gardenweb Mail.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:37PM
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jeff_al

my home is oriented about like yours is with the front facing due north. i have a large 'rose dawn' camellia at the corner and it blooms beautifully. your area sounds workable as a site for camellias at the foundation.
have a look at the link below for the thread about low-growing camellias from a couple of months ago for some cultivars that you can check out.
i would not plant any closer than 3' to the foundation, maybe a bit farther out, depending on the selected cultivar's growth habit.

Here is a link that might be useful: low-growing camellias

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Hi Claire,

Responders have given good advice. I'm no expert, but do live in your zone.

I think camellias should do well for you in this location provided there is not a lot of root competition from large trees nearby -- such as red maples, etc. If that is the case, camellias may sulk or remain leggy. If good soil, good moisture, and no root competition, you should not have leggy plants.

I have four camellias on the North side of my house planted about 2 ft from the foundation (wish I had planted them further away at this point!). They required supplemental irrigation in the hot, dry months of summer as they were getting established (yes, even in the shade). But now they seem to be getting established well and love that location. You have to be patient with them though as they are not real fast growers. So if you are into instant gratification, select large plants to begin with (pricier). I do think are a good long-term investment though.

Keep in mind different varieties have different 'shapes' and vigor, so depending on your ultimate height, choose accordingly. Likely you will need to do some pruning for compact form and shape, initially anyway.

'Yuletide' tends to grow more conically, but is compact and some pruning should easily keep it inbounds for many years.

You may want to look into something that grows more spreading, such as 'Winter's Fire', or 'Shishi-gashira', or 'Bonanza'. These should remain leafy to the ground over time.

'Kanjiro', 'Ashton's Ballet', 'Ashton's Supreme' are more rounded. (fall / Winter bloomers)

Most Sasanquas can be sheared to remain compact. Many japonicas may get a bit too tall for your spot, unless you regularly prune them -- sometimes at the expense of flowers. But if you look around, you will see lots of japonicas in the neighborhoods that have been kept lower.

If you provide a photo of the front of your home, I could probably offer better advice for a more overall 'curb-appeal' plan. For example, I like taller 'anchor' shrubs at the corners of the house -- like upright (and narrow) hollies, or Chindo Viburnum, and then use the lower growing camellias in between.

If your camellias ever do get somewhat leggy, you can always plant something low in front of them -- such as a bed of pachysandra, sweetbox, low boxwoods, variegated liriope, or some other shade-loving evergreen groundcover or very low shrub.

Don't know if this helps at all.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:27AM
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Claire4266

Thank so much to all of you for your suggestions, I will look up all the plants you mentioned. Dave in NOVA, I will try to post a photograph of our house later today. thanks again

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 12:12PM
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