Location for Camellia in Zone 7 Maryland

woodylandNovember 20, 2007

I just got two big Camellia bushs from a local nursery here in montgomery county, Maryland and was wondering what location is best for them. They are trained on a trellis so I can plan them close to the house wall. Our house is north-south facing with brick wall on three sides. Can they survive on the northside of the front wall, which has no sun light for about 4-5months and then partial shade during summer? I read from a book that east facing should be avoid in cold climate due to the freeze and thaw damage for the camellia. Thanks

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gardengranma(6a/6b MD)

I doubt that a northern exposure is any better than east. I'd think west or south with a little protection in the first year or two for the hot afternoon sun so there is no sunburn on the leaves.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 3:09PM
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I'm no expert but I have one Camellia planted on the North side of my house. Why don't you post your question on the Camellia forum?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 1:16AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

That's interesting - Carroll Gardens just did a newsletter article (which I can't find) that suggested east facing as an ideal site for camellia. If you go to www.carrollgardens.com and search for camellias, you can read up on their suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 9:42AM
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I have a gorgeous camellia just starting to open its bright pink blooms (the home's previous owner planted it, so I'm not sure of the variety, but it blooms in November and December). It is in the southeast corner of our house (in LaPlata), where it gets some morning sun and not much else due to shading from the porch and wall. Nevertheless, it is doing great.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 10:26AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Hey, I just found the newsletter info. Here it is. I've been wanting one for ages but can't find a good spot in my small yard for it. :( I was in Mississippi last January and they were blooming everywhere!

Camellia japonica 'Korean Fire'

Now You Can Enjoy Camellias Throughout Zone 6
'Korean Fire' is the hardiest of all the spring blooming Camellias, surviving minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit with no injury. It blooms very freely during warm periods in late fall, throughout the winter and early spring-a true harbinger of spring.

The vivid single red blooms are two an a half inches to three inches wide with the petals radiating out from the center of golden yellow stamens - a real eye catcher. Shiny evergreen foliage is dark green. The plant matures with a large spreading habit up to 15 feet high by 8 feet wide, but can be pruned to as short as 3-4 feet. A Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 2003 Gold Medal Winner! These winners are thoroughly tested and carefully chosen. You know Korean Fire will perform to your expectations.

Camellias do best in acid, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Keep the roots cool with three inches of mulch. Choose a spot protected from the winter winds with morning sun and afternoon shade. Against the east wall of a building is ideal. Cottonseed Meal fertilizer and Kelp Meal should be applied once during December and a second time in April. When necessary prune immediately after flowering. Once established, Camellias are extremely drought tolerant and do not require supplemental watering except in periods of extreme drought.

Camellia 'Korean Fire' is ideal as a foundation plant, as a hedge, or naturalized in a woodland setting under large shade trees.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 10:41AM
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Oh my... So Carrol Gardens not only send dead plants, but misleading newsletters also...
Here is a Virginia Camellia Society recommendation:

Plants in a northern or western exposure of a building or fence or otherwise protected from intense morning sun will usually stand more cold weather than those in an eastern or southern exposure.

It is especially important for Japonicas (spring blooming Camellias). Camellia sasanqua generally do better in the sun.
Also, 'Korean Fire' is hardy to -5F, not -12F.

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Camellia Society article about planting Camellias

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 11:07AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I've never ordered from Carroll Gardens - I'm local. I bought something from them once that I brought home myself. It was very healthy, although finding it in their disorganized greenhouse was a bit of a challenge.

However, I do have a great deal of respect for the knowledge of the owners. I'm not going to get into a camellia culture argument, as I've never grown them. However, every book I've ever read suggests that western sun is much harsher and more intense than eastern sun, at least during the summer. Is this rule different in the winter? Now I'm really confused!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 7:18PM
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Eastern sun is recommended for the many perennials indeed. Every book and publication about Camellias (written by Camellias experts) suggests western or northern site for planting Camellias. The explanation from the BBC Gardening web site:

A west-facing aspect is perfect as strong early morning sun on frosted flower buds can cause them to thaw too quickly and drop off. In very exposed gardens, camellias are best fan-trained on a west-facing wall.

From the American Camellia Society:

Plants located in full sun often are less dormant during warm periods of the winter and may suffer damage if cold weather follows. Plants in a northern or western exposure of a building or fence or otherwise protected from intense morning sun will usually stand more cold weather than those in an eastern or southern exposure.

From Greer Gardens:

Please give protection from winter wind and early morning sun, and they will do much better.

As for Carrol Gardens, I did not buy from them, but they have very negative feedback on this forum and 46% rating on GWD. The newsletter quoted above does not sound competent to me.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 1:09PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Alina, thanks for the clarification! Perhaps I do have a spot for a camellia after all!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 7:34AM
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Dr. Wm Ackerman lives in Montgomery Co MD and wrote "Growing Camellias in Cold Climates." This provides an accurate, local source of information. I'm not interested in cultural info from Japan or the UK.
"...the best location for camellias in Northern regions is a north or northwestern exposure with protection from prevailing winds."
Ackerman goes on to explain the problems with an eastern location, in short, the morning sun burns the leaves in winter. He has 45 years of experience in camellia research in Maryland, I respect his opinion.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 2:44PM
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I have one growing on a southeastern wall, where it is protected from the prevailing NW winds...

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 10:44AM
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alisonmd(z7 MD)

I have an old early spring blooming camellia (sorry don't know the type) growing against an east wall where it only gets morning sun (in Bethesda, MD). It flowers beautifully but the leaves become burned and brown exactly as described above and it looks terrible.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 6:58AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I know this is an old thread, but I can also attest to the North / Western exposures for camellias in the northern parts of their range. It seems a bit counterintuitive, since camellias are considered borderline tender in these parts. But, I've seen C. japonicas get quite a bit of freezer burn when getting hit with strong morning sun (in winter). The sun hits the leaves. The leaves want to take up moisture, but the roots and ground are still frozen and can't supply moisture, so the leaves burn. Later in the afternoon, the air temperature has usually warmed a bit and ground thaws allowing roots to take up moisture.

In Vienna, VA, I've seen the best-looking camellias in Northern and Western sides of buildings. These were quite exposed to winter winds too. I never would have thought they would do better. But I've never seen one burn that was in this location.

So early morning to noon winter sun is hard on them. Now you could put one in an Eastern location IF it got some dappled from a deciduous tree in the morning.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 8:40AM
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