Any Experience with Camellias in zone 6a?

nikkie_in_torontoFebruary 3, 2010

Hi everyone... I have posted on the conifers forum for a few years but wanted to ask everyone here a question. First, my name is a bit misleading in that Im now in Cleveland, Ohio. I've done a lot of reading about cold hardy varities of Camellias now being grown along the shores of the Great Lakes. Does anyone have experience in a solid zone 6 with any particular camellias. I have a very protected city garden and am interested in trying some after seeing them starting to pop up here at Ohio nurseries. I understand that they will need protection, especially the spring blooming varieties but After some research I have ordered the following:

Winters Joy

Winters Interlude

Winters Rose

Snow Flurry

Bette Sette

Kuro Delight

Korean Fire

Can anyone help me with any their experience with these varities in cold climates? Or perhaps anyothers.. Thank you all and any guidance would be appreciated. Nikkie

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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I have had "Snow Flurry" for over 10 years and it is rock hardy here. I would think it would survive 6a also. The only thing is that in order to get most of the buds to open, the weather has to stay mild in late fall, since it starts blooming in mid October. But this year I had flowers into December. This variety tends to grow low and spreading, and mine is about 6 ft. wide and 3.5 ft. tall. I occasionally clip it back a little to make it bushier. I give it no special protection. It's in shade for most of the afternoon.

Here are a couple of pictures.

Camellia "Snow Flurry"

Camellia "Snow Flurry"

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 7:14AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Here is a link to a nice source for hardy camellias. They list dozens that are hardy in zone 6.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 9:16AM
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Bill.. Thank you so much for your response. That is a very beautiful "Snow Flurry" you have. I had a Winters Rose for a few years until a storm came through and a limb from a white pine fell and broke it in half. I want to try some of these again in my yard, which I think is borderline 6a/6b, though technically we are in 6a. What type of temps has your camellia been exposed to? Thank you.. N

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 6:54PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

The worst cold spell we had was in January of 2004. It went down to -6ºF one night and several nights at one or two below zero. Several other nights were at or just 2 or 3 degrees above zero. Daytime highs were only in the low to mid teens and this went on for several days. For three weeks it never went above freezing. Snow Flurry was totally undamaged. My April Blush died back to the thickest wood near the ground which was about 1.5 inches in thickness at that time. It took until June of that year to see a TINY green sprout, and now it is almost back to the same size and has buds right now which I hope will open in spring.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 10:36PM
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@Bill... I'm nervous about trying the spring blooming ones... I was told the hardiest were Korean Fire and Kuro Delight, but I will still wrap them. I have heard the April Series, though rated 6b are best in 7? thank you for the info.. I hope the fall bloomers do well. Have you heard of one called Autumn Spirit by CamForest?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 11:06PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Yes Autumn Spirit is in their online catalog. It should be quite hardy with C. oleifera as one parent. The spring blooming ones may have problems with bud damage if they bloom early and there is a late freeze, even though the plant itself would be OK.
But then the fall blooming ones can be "iffy" should there be an early freeze just when they are starting to bloom.
All of the hardy camellias are at their limits in zone 6, and although most of the plants will be OK there is no guarantee that the flowers will all open. I think it's worth trying because they can be very nice if the weather is decent. You just have to roll the dice on this one! But in any event they make a nice evergreen shrub anyway.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 4:24AM
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Bill.. Do you know of any spring bloomers that might be hardier than others? Are they widely sold and planted where you are? I've heard of April Rose being quite hardy as well as Bette Sette, which I ordered. I enjoy pushing the limits, thanks to Lake Erie... I have had great success with various variegated Ilex Aquifoliums and wanted to try the hardier camellias. Thank you for all your advice! N

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 11:04AM
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I am not far from you. I live outside Louisville in Indiana.

I have a Monrovia Ice Angels Spring's Promise that I love. It has a single red blossom and has opened its first blossom on Christmas Day for the past three years. It will keep blooming as long as the weather is mild. When we have a hard freeze, all the blossoms that were open or near open die out, but the buds that were still tight will stay dormant until a period of mild weather, into early spring.

I had a Monrovia Ice Angels Snowman that was a double white. It bloomed earlier-fall into mid winter. It died when we had a late spring hard freeze two years ago. I think it was because it had gone into full growth mode and all the new growth was very tender.

I ordered several new cultivars from that are due in April. They have them rated for zones and we are right on the edge here. I love having something blooming in the middle of winter. I have mine planted in a bed slightly under a tall deck on the north side of my house because they are protected there and less likely to do the freeze thaw freeze thing there. It is worth the risk for a few precious winter blooms.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 3:25PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)


I read at the Camellia Forest website that the April series should do well in zone 6. The biggest problem is drying out in winter, more so than the cold itself. If they are sheltered from winter sun and wind, they can do well. Some people have used anti-dessicants such as Wilt Pruf but I have no experience with it. I would think the later the blooming time for the spring flowering types would be better to avoid freezes while the buds are coming out of dormancy.

This is C. "April Blush" (I am not certain since it was sold to me as "April Remembered" but it seems to be much lighter in color).

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 4:20PM
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Thank you Bill and Brian for the information. It is very encouraging to hear good reports from both of you in Z6. I've really tried to gather as much information on the hardy camellias as possible... I know with the other "marginal" plants I have such as Ilex Aquifolium, magnolia grandiflora, Mahonia bealii, and Aucuba japonica, the key has always been to keep them out of winter sun, which I would assume would be the same for Camellias. So far this winter has been snowy but fairly mild down to about 5F, but last year was brutal with the coldest temps in 15-20 years down to -12F, so I thought I better get going on these camellias before that happens again! :)

I would like to plant them under the canopy of a white pine against the house. I do not have a large lot in that I'm in the city. The soil is acidic and and well drained due to the pine. It is filtered sun almost all day during the summer, but not much sun in the winter. Azaleas do well there but I want to incorporate something else. Does this sound about right??? N.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 5:09PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

I am in 6b and have planted two "April Blush" and one "April Kiss." This will be their first spring, so I will let you know! A local horticulturalist did in fact recommend Wilt Pruf, which I applied in November. I have also put up a burlap wind break for the April Blush because of its location. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! They are all positively buried in snow right now.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 5:46PM
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Under the pine sounds like a good spot.

Here is what I have ordered from camforest:

Camellia X 'Winter's Rose'
Camellia japonica 'April Rose'
Camellia X 'Snow Flurry'
Camellia X 'Winter's Interlude'
Camellia X 'Autumn Spirit'

Do I have room for all of these? Hmmm. Guess I better find room, because I ordered them before Christmas.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 8:33PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Under a pine and with acid soil should be perfect. If it's a spot that's sheltered from winter wind that would be even better, but if not you can put some protection for the winter. As was mentioned, burlap placed around some stakes surrounding (but NOT touching) the plants can do a lot to keep them from drying out. If your budget is limited, I'd say try several of the younger plants and see how they do. A lot of gardening is experimental, and this is especially true when we grow things that are at or near their limits of hardiness. But the plants have no idea what "zone" they are in, so we have to try and that's how we find out! It makes for some interesting gardening!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 10:18PM
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I would love to know how your April Rose turns out, Brian... I have heard it is one of the hardier Spring Bloomers. I ordered Bette Sette after reading that there was some success with it in Canada. I have spent a great deal of time in Charleston, South Carolina and fell in love with the huge, beautiful Camellias. Years ago I brought a "Kumasaka" home, being told it was the "hardiest Camellia." It survived for years, just fine, but all the buds would drop off, so I yanked it out. I am encouraged by the hardier varities out now; especially the fall blooming ones. The spring bloomers still intimidate me a bit being that they must overwinter their buds through an Ohio winter but I'm going to give a few a shot.

Yes, the main area I want to plant them is generally protected from winter wind and sun. They will be companion plants for some dwarf conifers, and Japanese Maples, Theres such a burst of color in the spring with the Azaleas and Rhododendrons that I feel there needs to be something in the fall, which brought me to the camellias... Theres a lot of fun in trying but I wanted to get some experts opinion before I went ahead and ordered.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 11:01PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Well I'm no "expert" for sure! But I can tell you that "Snow Flurry" went through that cold spell I described earlier with no damage whatsoever. It should be fine for you. Whether or not all the buds will be able to open every year will depend on how long it stays mild. I've had flowers from October almost until Christmas some years, and only for a two or three weeks other years. But usually it's a month or more. If you look closely at the photo of the whole plant, you can see that there are plenty of buds. This past season I estimated well over 300! So it's worth a try for you.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 4:23AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

I planted Autumn Spirit last spring. It was a 1 year old plant from Cam. Forest Nursery. It bloomed at the end of October and so far has no leaf damage at all. The lowest temp so far this winter at my location has been +8 F. It is planted in a spot sheltered from wind. It also gets good winter shade. I did spray with wilt-pruf but offered no other protection. The bloom in the pic below was only half-open. A day later is was really large and spectacular!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 2:09PM
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Thank you for the pic of Autumn Spirit. I was told that it was one that would be early enough to really enjoy here in Ohio- as well as being very hardy.. What a beautiful flower on it... Im glad its doing well for you. Aside from a lot of snow this year the temperatures have not been extreme with perhaps 2 or 3 nights around 5F.

Im comfortable with the early blooming ones but I went ahead and ordered Winters Interlude and Winters Joy too. I'm not sure if they will bloom here, but I will give it a shot. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 9:40AM
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No experience in Zone 6, but...

Shishigashira, a hiemalis camellia, is described as being "remarkably cold hardy" in my Jennifer Trehane camellia book, "Camellias: The Gardener's Encyclopedia." It's not fully tested for really low temperatures around here, but I think that it's unusually bud hardy, as well as plant hardy where most camellias might not be. We cut a healthy bloom in January, just a few days after we'd had a week in which the temperature didn't get much above freezing, if any at all, and most nights were in the teens, down to 13 degrees. Then some only slightly warmer weather, and a bunch more really cold stuff (including a couple of nights down to around 11 and 12 degrees) ... and another bloom in mid-February. The main bloom period starts in late September, with most coming in October-November, so this is not the norm. But it's a beautiful low, wide camellia that's extremely easy to grow and blooms well over a long period of time, even in the shade.

I can't guarantee that it will survive your winter there! I just like it so well that if I lived there, I might want to give it a try and hope that it made it. If it is at least plant hardy there, you ought to be able to count on some beautiful tiny blooms covering the plant in October and November. And it might surprise you some in December, January, and February?

Our Shishigashira always has some mulch in our deciduous woods here. Other than that, we haven't done anything to protect it during the winter.

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 1:20AM
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If you haven't read Ackerman's book on growing camellias beyond the camellia belt, I recommend it.
Instead of burlap you can use microfoam (thin white stuff used in shipping) as it breathes and lets light through. At least for first couple years.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:23AM
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I live one mile north of the USDA dividing line. I have April Blush, April Dawn, April Rose, April Remembered, Autumn Spirit, Nuccio's Pearl, Snow Flurry, Spring Promise, Survivor, Winter's Fire, and Winter's Snowman. Only April Tryst died.

Do check Camforest. The 6A plants bloom reliably. 6B, some years. And Nuccio's Pearl (Z7) takes a real beating below 0 F. We've been having colder than normal winters for 5 years now; not this year, yet. Having this collection, I would not recommend winter bloomers in Z6a, just November or earlier, April or later, that is, Thanksgiving and Easter, not Christmas and Valentine's Day.
The key seems to be to protect them from winter sun, especially morning sun, once the ground freezes. It's the warmth on the leaves and buds, not the light. Since I protected them from the wind by planting on east the side of the house, I use Wilt-Pruf, then burlap. A northward slope helps, more oblique sun, than a southward slope.
My first ones are in their 6th year and now over 6 ft tall.

And I have "Beyond the Camellia Belt."

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 8:45PM
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