Seed pod on camellia

socksJuly 17, 2005

I must be a seed pod on my camellia. It's red and a little smaller than an egg. I'd enjoy trying to sprout the seeds but I'm not sure how long to leave it on the bush and if there are any special conditions in which to sprout the seeds.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Allow the pod to mature on the plant before harvesting. It will turn brown and actually begin to crack open as the seeds ripen. See attached link for further information.

Here is a link that might be useful: camellia seed propagation

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:25PM
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Thank you, rhizo. Have you germinated camellia seeds? If so, did you cut off the tip of the tap root?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:55PM
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I just let the seed pods ripen and allow the seeds to drop on the ground beneath each Camellia. You will be surprised when you note a few years later that seedlings are popping up. I let these grow for a few years and then, during the winter, pull the seedlings out of the ground and pot them. Yes, I do cut the tap root a bit. Sometimes people post on this Forum looking for seedlings needed for grafting stock purposes. I am always able to crawl under my Camellias and find plenty of seedlings to send them. Has anyone else had success with this method?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 9:10AM
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Nandina and socks, once the seed pod has split open, I place them in a gallon plastic container with a mix of perlite, peat and potting soil. All four seeds of mine germinated. It can take a long time for them to poke their heads out of the ground. I keep it moist. Once they grow a leave or two, I divide them, clip the tap root, make sure only one central stalk is growing and place them in their own four inch pot.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 10:42PM
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Thanks, Steve. That sounds like practical info I can handle.

Nandina, I have never seen a camellia sprout under my 3 large bushes. Actually, I don't even remember seeing a seed pod before, altho I'm sure we've had them. We do rake up and keep it clean under the bushes, especially the fallen flowers.

Steve, did you sprout them outside?
Why do you limit the plant to one central stalk? I'm thinkin' more stalks would make a nice bushy plant.

Many homes in our area have large, decades-old camellias, and I think it would be fun to sprout the seeds. Just hope no one snaps the pod off before it opens. I put a pink ribbon on it.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Yes, I did sprout them outside. I am in the San Francisco Bay Area so I wasn't concerned about Winter temps.

One reason I have one stalk is because I am concerned about the plant having a "Y" at the base and it eventually either breaking or having water accumulate. I can get bushy plants by encouraging branching later. The other reason is I hope to use these plants as graft material for Camellia Reticulata's.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 3:14PM
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That sounds like good thinking, Steve. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 3:47PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

It is my favorite hobby to grow my crossed seedlings. What You all talk about is the process in nature. If the condition is good, the seedlings will grow. Most of this type camellias are single or semidouble petal flower or species( most are single). I have two large camellia plants. They produce lots single flowers and they are great seed setter. Under their cover, many new seedlings are sprouting.It has been only 17 years. If the excellent growing condition is on going for 500 years(not possible at all), my backyard and beyond might possibly form a camellia natural forest.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 4:17PM
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Would the seeds developing on my bush have the same flowers as the bush itself? I never thought that they might have a different flower!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 4:27PM
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Well wouldn't you just know it!!! Someone came along and just snapped that seed pod off! I even had a pink ribbon on the stem. Oh well...I'm not mad. Maybe next year.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 5:29PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

Every seedling is slightly different, but sharing the similar trait. If you have many kinds of camellia near your area. The bees may carry quite different pollen from distant camellia bushes on your flower to set seeds. Then the seedling will produce a new, different type, different color or different size flower.

The chance to develop a very good new camellia by nature is very low and very slow. Therefore I use controlled pollination. So far I have already developed quite a few new camellias.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 11:40PM
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Sorry to hear the news on the seed pod. If you'd like, send me an email at with a mailing address and I'll send you one of my four sprouted camellias. I'd enjoy that. No cost.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 2:18AM
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My camellias have several seed pods. If I put them in a container with potting soil, how long before they sprout? I'm in central Florida, so should they be in the full sun or some shade or what? Help.....

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 2:07PM
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Hello Socks,Sorry to hear about your seed pod - hope you get one next year.

Steve, how long will it take from seedling to flowering stage? I am thinking about getting some seeds to start some plants: it is very difficult to get plants here in canada: the only two I have found are very big and expensive.



    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 9:49PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

I germinate over 200 camellia seeds yearly. Do not keep the seeds in room temperature and dry place too long that will damage the vitality. If the seed pod is cracked, harvest the seed immediately. Keep the seeds with moist (not wet) perlite in a zip-lock bag and set it in refrigerator.
I use 50% pertite and 50% ground peat moss. I even microwave it (the moist mix in a small plastic container in a thick tansparent plastic bag) as potting mix. Plant the seeds in the pot and set it at warm place with window bright light, no direct sun. For my own method, I convert a tropical fish tank as my minigreen house. So the potting mix has to be heated in microwave to kill all pest before planting in enclosed environment. Both methods work.
It will germinate about a month pending the thickness of the seed shell. I peel 1/2 of the shell and germination can start in 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 2:19PM
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jalfred(z7 MS)

I planted a seed in potting mix but pretty much on the surface as I thought nature would have done. This was Oct. 2006. I have seen nothing. Started to throw it out last week but there is a healthy white root going down into the dirt. Still nothing showing on top. Does this seed have a chance? I would love for it to grow.
Jackie now in Miss. zone 7

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 9:55PM
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This is the time of year the pods will start to ripen. Let the pods split before harvesting and plant shortly after harvesting. The tap root will start to develop within a couple of months and here in So. Cal you should see top growth next March or April. I use the same soil as I do for my potted camellias and water to keep the seeds moist and well drained. They will rot if kept to wet. i allow the seedlig to grow for a year in the one gallon container it was germinated in before removing it to cut the tap root. I let mine branch mostly to observe it growth habit and to get branching started young. I won't prune a seedling for at least 2 years.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 12:05AM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

jalfred, The tap root will grow first to about 3 inches and the stem will be splited with a first leaf bud at the center. The leaf bud will develop into the tree trunk. Your seed takes too long to grow due to lack of water. In natural habitat, the soil is wet and air has high humidity. The ground has lots of leaf mold. Let me show you that I germinated a hybrid seedling last year in Oct.( with my own method). The plant was about 6 inches tall in March. It was then approaching grafted. I took the picture 10 days ago as you can see. It is about 2 feet.There is a shadow line with the understock. It is the lower part of seedling stem. the top of the stem is callused with understock, much larger.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 4:49AM
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When can you plant out the seedlings? I was thinking that a plant with its taproot intact is a better garden plant to have especially with our hot dry summers. I have so many potted Japonicas I could try grafting onto a taprooted plant. Would you have to start the seedling in place or can you graft onto it in a potted state without impeding the tap root?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 8:16AM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

Kittymoonbean: The very young seedlings will not have chance to exposed to hot weather, sunlight or windy condition. If your seedlings are about two feet tall. You can plant it outdoor only at a proper location with proper ground preparation, proper shade, proper after care of watering and preferably during cooler month of Nov. in LA area.

Over 99% of my camellias are in Pots of different sizes. It is much better and easier to manage so many camellias if there are in pots.

Remove part of taproot will encourage more fiberous root to sprout, benefiting young seedling to grow in pot.

The understock plant should be much larger and strong, either in pot or in ground. The taproot becomes of less issue.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 2:40PM
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Well I followed the advice and now I have 4 little plants with 2 leaves each growing under a sparkletts bottle with the end cut off. Thanks everyone, I can't believe I didn't try it sooner!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 8:48PM
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yesterday I found what it looked like a fungus in my camellia plant, so I remove it, only to find another one which was open and had these seeds inside. I looked at this web, and discovered that I have now around four gardenia seeds in my hands. i placed them in a zip-lock bag with a moist paper towel, and left it in a warm place in my kitchen. Can any one tell me what to do now? go and buy perlite? moss? planting soil? thanks in advance

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 10:37AM
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I am not too knowledgeable about camellias. So I have come here for an education.
We have three fairly tall, 20 feet, camellia bushes that were here when we moved in 14 years ago. I have found several seedlings under my Camellia bushes.
My mother always said a camellia seedling will always only produce a single camellia. Is this true, or can I expect the babies to resemble their parents (double and reticulata)? Can I dig these up and put them in pots? How should I go about this? The seedlings have 2 or more leaves and I do not see any residual seed cover. They started to grow under the bushes in the dead leaves and flowers
Thanks for any help you might give.
Georgia in Hayward, CA

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 4:03PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Georgia, the truth is that you never know what your seedling will be like until it blooms. For some people, that is part of the fun.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:55AM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

gpgruver : If you want to have fun to grow camellia seedlings. Go a head to grow a few seedlings to see the flower later in 5 to 6 years. I have so many open seed pods and I do not grow any of them at all( Unless the mother plant has very unique color or shape). I only grow my own designed seedlings by hand pollination. It nails down to "probability of producing better camellias". I can not afford to waste my valuable time.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 5:16AM
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Reporting back here, 5 years later!!! Steve B was kind enough to send me a small camellia seedling in 2005. I have cared for it these past 5 years, and it has reached the lofty height of a whole 6". I have no idea why it has not grown better. It's in a ceramic pot of about the same height, in commercial camellia/azalea mix, outdoors of course. Any suggestions?

PS Had to laugh at my original post: "I must be a seed pod on my camellia." Really!?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 2:16PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Even though Camellias are considered slow growers, 6 inches in 5 years is sloth speed! Clearly, the plant is not happy in its environment. I typically look to the quality of the potting mix when it comes to problems with container grown plants and am rarely disappointed.

Is the 'camellia/azalea' mix for container grown plants only? Do you know what the ingredients are? ANY potted plant needs to be in a mixture that is very porous, coarse textured, and fast draining (all of those terms pretty much mean the same thing as far as potting medium goes). A peaty, dense mix won't be able to provide the large pore spaces required for a high level of oxygen in the soil. Yours may be acceptable, I don't know. One thing is certain, if it's peat-based then it sure needs to be changed out every year or it (the soil) will collapse more and more.

Very simply, that means that the roots will be very slow to develop. Slow root growth means poor top growth.

The EASIEST recommendation I would have for you is to hunt down a source of bonsai potting mix. Better garden centers will carry small bags of it and you can also buy small quantities of it on-line. A good bonsai mix will have a combination of Turface MVP (a very hard fired clay product), small conifer bark fines, perlite, maybe a little bit of peat moss, granite grit, and other ingredients. I've yet to come across any kind of container plant that doesn't thrive in such a mixture, bonsai or not. I've been constructing my own for many years, but it makes more sense for you to locate some already mixed up.

I'd probably wait until spring to repot. I assume that your container as adequate drainage holes?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 12:32PM
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OK, thank you, Rhizo. I'll definitely switch to a bonsai mix. The little thing is so stubborn--won't thrive, won't die!

Yes, the pot has a good drainage hole.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 7:24PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

"6 inches in 5 years" ? You have a record breaking, I ever heard. My 3 months seedling is over 3 inches already. However your spirit is topping everyone. We need to produce new camellia in very efficient way. I hope every year that I can select 2-4 new camellias, good for registration, not 2-4 new camellias in my life time. Here is one of my new camellia blooming in late march, 2010. A scholar name it for me meaning " Sun through Halo "

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 4:58PM
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Pretty, Longriver! Love that splash of deep pink.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 9:31PM
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I live is SanFrancsco. I have planted this camellia tree in my backyard for at least 10years. I give a lot of beautiful red flowers every year!!!! The flowers are very beautiful. I never have seed in my camellia tree, but on a few days ago, I noticed the a seed was formed. I am so hapyto see it. I want to make the seed to sprout and grow it. Need any inf. how to make it sprout, thank you.

@stevebrickey: I will be apprecited that you will send me some of your ( four sprouted camellia ) that you poste on 2005. Later Iwill email to you nd send you my address, thank you!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:10PM
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This is the camellia in my San Francisco backyard that bears seed pod. I like the bright red color. Do anybody know the name of this camellia, thank?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:12PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

It should normally change color and break open sometime in the Fall.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:19PM
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I have never seen seed pods on my camellias until today and I picks them off as I was so shocked to see them. My plants were planted back in the 60's by my late father in law.
Most of the 15 pods were different shades of brown where as the others were green and brown. None of them have cracked open. Have I ruined the pods by picking them? Are they still salvageable? Any help or advice would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 5:50PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Maybe? I do not get seed pods here from my camellias so I have not accidentally removed them early. But normally, you are supposed to let them open in late summer or early fall when the pods naturally turn brown and also open.

Since the pods are cut off and there is no way to put them back, you could carefully remove the seeds now from all brown pods or wait until the pods have almost completed the "browning" out. Seeds ready for planting should be brown and have something that looks like an eye on one end.

Under ideal circumstances (ie, doing this in the fall), you would stand a better chance of success but you will just have to wing it and see if the seeds take.

Don't feel bad about it. If I had not known about camellia seed pods and then found one, I too would have removed them. Enjoy! Even if the seeds do not take this year, you will get more in future years!!! Yeah!

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of a brown and open seed pod

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:35AM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that if you go looking for more seed pods in a couple of months, you will find at least one more... and probably more than one.

And I would do as Luis suggests and put them somewhere safe from squirrels, heat and moisture to see if they might ripen anyway.

You probably already know this, but if you plant seeds from a particular camellia variety, the seedling won't be a clone of the parent, and may not resemble it at all. You'll need a bit of patience, because it'll be a few years before your unique seedling blooms, and you can see what you've got.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:10PM
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