New England gardeners who grow camellias?

bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)December 23, 2013

Are there any New England gardeners who are growing any of the many hardy camellias? I have several of the "April" series that are just gorgeous, and one fall blooming called "Snow Flurry" that is loaded with flowers every autumn. There are many hybrids that can thrive in zone 6 and 7 areas of New England, but I don't see any posts about camellias. My "April Blush" is 12+ years old and almost 6 feet high and has easily over 100 blooms each spring. "April Kiss" and "April Dawn" are 5+ years old and about 4 feet high, and now produce about 30-40 blooms each spring. The "Snow Flurry" is about 14 years old, and as it tends to spread rather than grow upright, it's about 4.5 feet tall but maybe 8 feet wide, and has 300+ flowers in autumn. I think camellias should be used more in the warmer areas of New England, but I think most gardeners in my area don't even know that they can be grown here. And that means that people don't ask for them at nurseries, and in turn, the nurseries don't bother to stock them because they never had anyone ask for them, and so the circle continues. Too bad, because they are really beautiful plants, and being evergreen is a nice feature in a place where most trees and shrubs become stark twigs in winter.

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Bill, I am not in New England but close enough to coastal Connecticut.

I absolutely agree with you about camellia potential in milder sections of NE. A lot boils down to traditional tastes and know entities and camellias have not been a part of the gardening scene. I would also add,I noted a BIG difference in what local nurseries were selling after our gardening zone went from 6b to 7--suddenly, Southern Magnolias, Camellias, and hardy palms were popping up. The one in the picture blooms sporadically from November to February, then revs up the bloom in March--no blooms from May through October. They appreciate some shade from summer and winter. On word of caution, if you have deer, this evergreen is quite edible, but for whatever reason my prolific deer seem to leave it alone (may be too close to house). But they don't seem so shy about eating other plants.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 7:07PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Have you checked out the Massachusetts Camellia Society? See the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: MCS

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 10:40PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)


I read some at that Massachusetts Camellia Society web page, and they represent exactly what I was trying to point out. They specifically state that "they are not hardy in New England." They are perpetuating the myth and causing people to avoid growing these beautiful plants in my area and other warmer parts of New England. I think they need a refresher course if they are stating that they are best grown from northern Washington, DC down along the Atlantic coast. Too bad but they may not be aware that they're discouraging people rather than encouraging them to grow camellias.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:21AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

That is what I was trying to point out. Are you close to them to attend meetings?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 9:57AM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

Don't see many camellias in northern NJ gardens and local garden centers don't carry them. Interesting to note that I bought one at Lowe's, of all places, Sept. 2012 and the worker told me they were flying off the shelves. Had a few blooms early Spring 2013 but the squirrels/groundhogs chomped off the blooms. Will be more diligent next spring about pest control.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Jerseygirl, HD and Lowe's have been selling them for the past few years in April, but they do go fast. You might also try Corrado's in Clifton, they sell just about everything. They are actually quite easy when properly situated.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 5:15PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Here are some of mine:

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:41PM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

Your 'April' camellias are beautiful! I hope your example will get gardeners in your area to question their assumptions about camellias.

Clifford Parks and William Ackerman have done much to create and market hybrids specifically designed to be cold-hardy, but I wonder how some of the japonicas used as parents for many of those hybrids would do? 'April Remembered' sure shows her 'Berenice Boddy' and 'Dr Tinsley' parentage- I wonder how far north 'BB', 'Dr T', Prof Sargent', 'Gov Mouton', 'Billie McCaskill' and other hardy oldies can thrive/survive?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 2:59AM
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Do you know the name of the last one posted, Bill? The one that is pale pink is especially gorgeous! I can always find room for another!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 3:08PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)


The first one is a fall bloomer called "Snow Flurry". The rest are all spring blooming. The photo of the whole plant and the one following are "April Blush", then "April Kiss" and finally "April Dawn".

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 5:30PM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

This prolonged cold you're getting in the Northeast will certainly pose some challenges for folks trying to grow camellias that aren't hardy in their zones.

I hope you'll report back to let us know if your spring blooms seem to be affected by the prolonged low temps.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:24PM
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I really love camellias, but have never grown them. Like VMR423 states, prolonged cold is a challenge. My inlaws grew many camellias in zone 7 northern VA, but all it took was a hard winter and they were blasted and would take years to recover their former glory. Prior to this year, we've had a fair number of winters that have been mild and cold snaps were short. With the repetitious cycles of freezing and holding the cold tempertures for many days, I will be curious to learn how others in the Mid Atlantic have fared with their "hardy camellias". I'd love to see one do well in zone 6 with this winter's conditions.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 8:04PM
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Rarefind Nursery in Jackson, NJ has some of the more cold tolerant camellias (and many gorgeous Rhododendrons). I live in Virginia and most of my camellia plants are okay, but the bad winter seems to have killed most of the flower buds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rarefind Nursery

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 8:32PM
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Here in Williamsburg Va. the Camellias did fine. Now the Gardienas however....

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 9:39PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Oh, no. Not the gardenias.... what happened to those super fragrant shrubs?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:06PM
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