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Camellia in full sun

Posted by gigim 8A (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 4, 14 at 11:35

I have moved a japenese maple to a better location and now have to decide what to put in its place. I love Camellia's but am concerned that the spot will be too sunny. It faces South but is on the west side of the house so gets full sun from about noon until sundown.
Is there a Camellia that would thrive there?
If so, I love the way this Camellia is pruned (see photo). How do you achieve this?

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RE: Camellia in full sun

Most camellias grown in home landscapes are either japonicas or sasanquas (I'm lumping hiemalis and vernalis camellias in with the sasanquas because they're all pretty similar). As a general rule, japonica camellias prefer some shade, but for some reason, japonicas with dark red flowers tend to handle full sun better than those with lighter flowers. The main trouble with japonicas in full sun is that the leaves get sun-scald, and burnt leaves are not very attractive. Oh, and also japonicas need to be kept somewhat moist (but not wet), and that's not as easy to do in full sun.

If this location gets morning shade, and you can keep the plant from drying out, a japonica such as the one in your photo may do fine. I can't really see the flowers in your photo, but that looks an awful lot like one of my favorite japonicas 'Professor Sargent'. I have seen the 'Professor' grown in full sun, but the leaves and flowers may be a lighter color than if they get some shade.

A better choice for full sun might be a sasanqua camellia. Sasanquas are pretty tolerant of sun or shade (although the leaves may get temporarily sunburned if abruptly moved from shade to sun). Sasanquas are somewhat less cold-hardy than japonicas, but that shouldn't be a factor if you're in Zone 8A.

Another advantage of sasanquas is that they grow more quickly than japonicas. The look you like does require some time, but you'll get there a bit sooner with a sasanqua than with a japonica.

The disadvantage to growing sasanquas is that they tend to have a shorter blooming period- generally 3-6 weeks in the fall or early winter, and then back to being an attractive evergreen shrub. Japonicas will often bloom for 3-6 months, depending on the variety and the weather.

There are several approaches to pruning camellias in a tree shape, but you could just shape the plant lightly as it grows, then prune back the lower branches to expose the trunk(s) as the plant gets taller.

RE: Camellia in full sun

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 15:03

Sasanquas are much more sun tolerant as vmr says. I do not think I would try a japonica in afternoon sun. If you do, make sure you shade the root system of the plant. Camellias have relatively small root systems that are very sensitive to heat and drying out. Keeping them shaded vastly reduces stress.

I have seen very large old (100 years!) Camellia japonicas in Pasadena (very hot summers) that have gotten tall enough to reach full all day sun; they look great. Their roots are completely shaded, which likely makes that possible.

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