Short Camillias for front Porch

lisadMay 31, 2006


My front porch faces east and has a white oak in front of it. So in the summer that area is shady but in the winter it's sunny (morning sun only).

Someone suggested I try camillas there but I'd need one that doesn't get taller than about 5 feet. I'm partial to reds and deep pinks. Any suggestions would be appreicated.

Also, I'm new to growing camillas and was wondering if they are disease/insect hardy plants. I have roses so I'd rather not add to my woes!



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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hello, Lisa. Be aware that camellias in the Far East grow to be trees several hundreds of years old. Also, be aware that the plant height specified in many plant labels refers to a 10-yr plant and not to the plant's height at maturity. So a plant advertised to grow to 5 ft. may end up being taller than that.

Based on that, I would suggest that you research the sasanqua cultivars, the smallest and most compact of all camellias. Attributes to keep in mind when choosing a plant are: USDA Zone Recommendation, plant height, blooming period (early fall, early winter, late winter or spring), flower color and blossom forms that you like.

Camellia Japonica is a shrub that can achieve heights of 25 feet but usually grows around 6-12 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide depending on the variety. That is outside of your range. Their dark green leaves are about 4 inches long. Some Japonicas bloom early but most varieties bloom in mid to late season. Personally, I am not familiar with low-growing compact Japonicas (but I am not implying there are none). Maybe someone else can chime in.

Camellia sasanquas are more varied (from upright & bushy to low and spreading) reaching heights of a few feet to 12 feet tall. Their leaves are dark green and half as big as the japonica leaves. While camellias in general are slow growers, sasanquas are slower growing than their faster growing Japonica Cousins. Sasanquas crossed with Oleiferas are considered cold hardy. Some sasanquas to consider: Shishi Gashira (bright pink semi-double blooms), Bonanza (similar to Shishi Gashira but with red flowers), White Doves (similar but with white flowers), Kanjiro (pink petals edged red) and Chansonette (pink double blooms).

Camellia Oleifera is referred to as a relative of the sasanquas by some. It is a large shrub reaching 20 feet tall with fragrant Fall flowers. Used by hybridizers to create winter hardy camellias, they tend to be tall bushes.

Camellia reticulata is a rather gaunt and open shrub reaching about 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It is particularly sensitive to cold weather and should be grown in the ground only in the southernmost states.

As you can assume, all of these heights vary based on geographical location, of course.

Camellias are bothered by very few diseases and insects. By watering the soil under the plant (as opposed to watering the leaves) and by picking up fallen flowers, you will be doing good. Scale is the most common insect that can attack camellias. For more information in this area, I suggest you review the information in the American Camellia Society's Website below.

Hope that helps, Luis

Here is a link that might be useful: American Camellia Society

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:59PM
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Try Shishi Gashira for a short bushy plant. Sweet Emily Kate is another plant that is a wonderful shorter grower plant but with a slight distinction - it's very fragrant!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 10:09AM
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