What camellias are happiest in the sun?

stinky-gardener(7/SouthEastern VA)April 29, 2010

Hi! I have a bed of five camellias next to my driveway. Original owner planted them under a huge pine tree about 20 yrs. ago. When we bought the house 4 yrs. ago, removed the pine tree & now have planted a crepe myrtle which is still fairly small. Two of the camellias need to go, I believe, because they haven't tolerated the abundance of sunshine cast upon them in recent years. The other three seem to be o.k. They're not outstanding specimens, but are o.k. (to my untrained eye, that is!)

I would like to leave the space blank, but my dh insists that we get two more camellias. He just insists. Not roses, not anything else, just camellias. "But camellias don't like all this sun" I whine like a typical wife. "I want them. It was your idea to take away the pine tree, so it's your fault that they died. I want two more camellias." I didn't know it was soley MY idea to remove the pine tree, but I guess I've been set straight. Well then, what's a girl to do? I need to find some kind of camellia that will tolerate our brutal summers, or my dh will not be a happy camper (& it will be MY fault!) ANY ideas? Thanks!

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I'm up in Northern VA and grow Debutante, Professor Sargent, April Remembered and April Tryst in full sun with no real problems--they weren't positioned in sun by choice (I had to remove 2 sick chestnut trees) but they actually perked up after the removal--I think it was really too dark with the trees. Can't speak for all of those varieties performing well further south, but you do see Professor Sargent in Richmond in everything from full shade to full sun and I KNOW Richmond is a steam bath all summer.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 1:07AM
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stinky-gardener(7/SouthEastern VA)

Thanks for your reply, Ozzy. I am eager to investigate your suggestions! Prof. Sargent sounds very promising.

Northern VA is a steam bath? Come down here to VA Beach mid-July Ozzy! WHEW!

Richmond is so pretty. Would love to tour the old homes in the Fan District some day or get to Historic Garden week there once.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 8:00AM
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stinky-gardener(7/SouthEastern VA)

Ooh, I just looked them up on the internet & Deb & April Remembered are soft pinks! They'd work with my current colors. Deb is a winter bloomer & April & spring bloomer? Which of these two are the easiest to grow & the hardiest? Any caveats I should be aware of? Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 8:09AM
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If you do Richmond, definitely go to the Ginter Arboretum. It used to be rather shabby but they started investing major $ and time in the late 90s and now it's splendid. My own feeling is that Richmond is under-rated and overshadowed by the DC/Fredericksburg/Manassas triangle. It's got beautiful old houses and traditions, its own food scene, events along the James. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (which just built a new wing) houses a top-notch collection including lots of Beaux Arts pieces and the largest collection of Faberge eggs outside of Russia.

Wphew! I didn't know I felt that way about Richmond. lol. One very quirky thing my ex noticed in Richmond: when it rains, the asphalt bounces the rain back up--just some bizarre surface chemistry going on. Um. And the Italian sausage sub at the Village Cafe rocks! Ooops. I digress.

In Richmond's normally mild winters, Professor Sargent starts its blooming about mid-January and continues on until April--its blooms aren't the largest or most impressive, but they're numerous, reliable, of good deep colouring and the bush is hardy. Definitely will always have one of them in my garden.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:47PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Definately consider adding some C. sasanquas to your mix. They can take more sun than japonicas. At least I've seen them up here in full sun.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 10:18AM
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I'd not particularly recommend Debutante for Richmond. It's very, very iffy a lot farther south than Richmond as far as producing blooms (even after it's all budded up nicely). It would likely be hardy as a plant, but it's not very bud hardy and you'd likely get few blooms. And the foliage itself is not so full as to make a plant that's wonderful to look at, whether it blooms much or not. (Though they are gorgeous on the few occasions when you do get its blooms.)

All the camellias starting with "April" were developed with extra hardiness in mind, though some who have posted have found them less hardy than they expected. If you really want a pink color the most, and want something especially cold hardy, perhaps a few recommended by the Potomac Valley Camellia Society might work: Berenice Boddy, Dr. Tinsley, Winter's Charm, or Winter's Dream.

The most beautiful pink japonica camellia I've ever seen is Nuccio's Jewel. I don't know how hardy it is; you'd need to ask around Richmond for that, but I know that it survived the latest frigid winter fine just north of Greensboro, NC, and then I bought it with no bud or any other kind of damage that I could see. Blooms mid to late season. I've no idea how it would do in full sun, though we've planted both of ours in fairly sunny spots, not so much shadier than where a nearby tea rose is growing and blooming happily.

If you're willing to consider reds, I'd strongly recommend Professor C. S. Sargent. One of ours is growing very, very happily right next to that happily blooming tea rose, though it's in somewhat less than a full sun situation for many months of the year. It's extremely bud hardy and reliable in every way--a really easy to grow camellia that likes to bud up and bloom a *lot*. Ours started blooming around the first of December last year and kept going until mid April this year--a longer season than is typical, due to the extended length of very low temperatures this winter. It does usually start blooming in the first part of December, though--it's just that the season ran longer than normal this year. The blooms last extremely well, both on the bush and in a vase.

Kanjiro, an upright-growing vigorous red hiemalis camellia that blooms prolifically all fall and into the winter is desirable in every way. It's very hardy too (according to what I read--ours is only a couple of months old). Another hiemalis camellia that's wonderful, wonderful: Shishigashira. Not very fast-growing, and a horizontal grower in the extreme, it makes a wonderful short hedge to line a walk or driveway. Extremely hardy, and extremely bud hardy too. Both hiemalis camellias make good cutting flowers. The Shishigashiras are tiny, tiny double flowers that look like little red roses. (But those tiny flowers tend to absolutely cover the plant, almost like an azalea.) The Kanjiros, which also bloom heavily, have much larger single blooms, with pointed petals. Your local grower might be labeling and locating either of these hiemalis camellias in with the sasanquas, as the tendancy is to do that with any camellia that blooms in the fall. Both of these varieties are easy to grow.

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 11:37PM
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stinky-gardener(7/SouthEastern VA)

Ozzy, thanks for all the great info about Richmond. It sounds like a GREAT day trip!! I'm not a beachy gal, so living a short drive from the ocean is not the dreamy scenario for me that it surely is for many in these parts. R's attractions sound more to my liking...air conditioned museums, good but casual eateries, beautiful old architecture to gawk at...yes!

Dave, thanks for the suggestion. I do have several sasanquas in other beds & love them. They seem to have a neater, tidier appearance which I appreciate, & I love the deep green leaves.

Mary, thanks for all the great info!! Wow! I will carefully review your descriptions & suggestions. I appreciate all the great details.

Btw, the two dead camellias are goners. They've been dug up & I actually like the bed the way it is. Even with all this great info & all these wonderful suggestions, I STILL think the best thing to plant (if anything...negative space is important too!) would be *one* gardenia. It would be SO happy in full sun. Kleim's Hardy would stay evergreen & look nice with the other plantings there, imo. But, this is the camellia forum, afterall, so I would imagine that the merits of any sort of gardenia would be considered to be rather sparse compared to the virtues of any camellia!

To redeem myself I should add...I bought 3 camellias at the Norfolk Botanical Garden plant sale this past weekend (for other spots in yard!) I got Yultide (to fill in a spot in my Yultide hedge) a French one (someone's name) and Silver something. They were each about 2 ft. tall @...$10.00 a piece. Yay!

Thanks again for generously sharing!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 9:33AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA


Check out the gardenia 'Frostproof'. It has double flowers and is oh so fragrant. Has survived for me up here in part sun. Kleim's is single-flowered and not as 'classic' in my opinion.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 2:27PM
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>But, this is the camellia forum, afterall, so I would imagine that the merits of any sort of gardenia would be considered to be rather sparse compared to the virtues of any camellia!

Oh, I'm crazy about gardenias too. The single one we tried (actually, from the grocery store and bought on an impulse) was probably put in too much shade, but I'd love to try another one from a good source sometime. My parents had a huge gardenia near the front door that wafted wonderfully, wonderfully; once you're spoiled with something like that, you'll always want a gardenia, I think.

Dave, thanks for the hardy gardenia name! One of these days I'm going to look for that one from a good source.

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:22PM
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stinky-gardener(7/SouthEastern VA)

Yes, Dave, thanks so much. You've really got my attention by directing me to something more "classic." I must check out "Frostie" since you added that note!

Mary, my goodness, what a glowing endorsement! You have intrigued me. While the area in question is not next to my front door, it is next to the sidewalk, & lots of runners, walkers, bikers, & baby strollers might enjoy taking a whiff!

Will keep y'all posted!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 2:36PM
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