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White Japonicas with especially good shade tolerance

Posted by carolinamary 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 5, 10 at 3:13

Hello Folks,

We need some more white japonicas! I have been looking, and found these three that will for sure be available later here in fairly good sizes: Snow Chan, Silver Ruffles, Fifth Avenue. We'll get them all, but would like some more, including some different varieties.

Other possibilities at that same nursery (with camellias that we've had much good luck with): probably Swan Lake, and possibly Nuccio's Gem. Assuming they do become available, we'd get those too.

We have more than one spot in mind. All but one spot is close to ideal for camellias, but one spot has too much shade from overhead deciduous trees.

My impression is that sometimes japonicas, epecially white japonicas, can bloom reasonably well in spite of a lot of shade from overhead deciduous trees. I think white would be the best color, and japonicas have the bloom period that would look best in that shady spot.

We've had wonderful luck with Shishigashira planted with too much shade from deciduous trees, and I've generalized the experience to believe that good shade tolerance might be a characteristic of all hiemalis camellias...though that might not be correct at all. Anyway, if it happens to be correct, we already do have on hand a nice Stephanie Golden that we've not planted yet, and that might go into the too-shady spot and look pretty good, even if not exactly what we'd prefer. We'd much rather plant a white japonica there if it could be happy, though. So I'm wondering whether you have experience growing any of these particular varieties in conditions with lots of shade? And do you also know anything about the shade tolerance of hiemalis Stephanie Golden?

Thanks for any information!
Mary


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: White Japonicas with especially good shade tolerance

Dear carolinamary,
My impression of white camellias is that they prefer shady conditions. Isn't it generally thought that white camellias will show more frost damage if grown in the sun than if grown in the shade, the assumption being that the shade of pine trees lessens the impact of frost? Shade also lessens leaf scorch of camellias in hot weather, doesn't it? Have you researched the varieties you mentioned in your post to determine their suitability to our climate zone? I know that 'Snow Chan' is good in Zone 7b because it does well for me, planted in pine shade. I'm not familiar with the other varieties you mentioned; however, there are several standard white japonicas that I can recommend through experience in growing them. These whites are definitely good in Zone 7b: 'September Morn' ('Yohei Haku'),'White Empress,' 'Victory White,' 'Imura,' 'Finlandia,' 'Leucantha' ('White Tricolor'), 'Coronation,' and 'Yuki Botan' ('Pride of Descanso'). We also have 'Frost Queen,' 'Joshua Youtz,' and 'Emmett Barnes'; but they are too young to bloom. There are also a few white japonica seedlings in our yard. One that I particularly like is a frilly semi-double to incomplete double with a mass of yellow stamens and gorgeous dark green foliage. Its drawback in Zone 7b is that it prefers to bloom in January when the weather is too cold; however, we generally have some pretty blooms on it as late as March. I call it 'Mont Blanc' but have given no thought to registering it. 'Imura,' 'Finlandia,' and 'Yuki Botan' are spectacular white japonicas. 'Imura' has a weeping habit that makes it especially appealing. I'm sure there are many other good whites that I'm not familiar with. It would be a good idea for you to walk through the camellia garden at the South Carolina Botanical Garden to observe white japonicas that should do well in our climate zone.


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RE: White Japonicas with especially good shade tolerance

Hi Jay,

I am so glad to hear that Snow Chan is doing well for you! We don't have anything at all like that one, and are expecting it to make a splash in our yard. We haven't gotten any new white ones here yet, but they ought to be available within the next few weeks.

The form you describe for Mont Blanc happens to be my favorite, though I do like all forms of camellias. A nurseryman I was talking to the other day mentioned that he'd had several customers wishing for more selections of white camellias; apparently many of the wholesalers are relatively short on those. You might consider registering the name Mont Blanc (great name!) and offering cuttings to some nurseries in hopes of making that camellia widely available.

Thank you so much for your recommended white ones; we love white and we do have plenty of shade here. Finlandia is the only name I recognize from your list. (As I continue with camellias, I realize how much there is that I don't know. One thing I think I've figured out, though, is that I like almost every camellia I see!) I'll look into all of the camellias you mentioned.

Winter bud hardiness is an important issue; we have three Debutantes and I wouldn't buy another one simply because the majority of its buds get frozen back every year here. At the other end of the bud-hardiness scale, there's Professor C.S. Sargent. It did an amazing job even during this past exceptionally cold winter. It knew to stop opening buds as soon as it started to get into the lower-twenties, and then at the moment when we'd have a short respite from the worst of the cold, it would open up more buds quickly, and shut down again before the next wintry blast. We had blooms for cutting from Professor Sargent here all winter long! Lows were often in the lower teens, and one night the official low was 9 degrees F. Shishigashira was similarly bud-hardy--its last bloom came the first week of February!--though most of its blooms had finished by mid-December.

The only white we currently have is the white thinly striped with red version of Lady Van Sittart. (It wasn't properly labeled at purchase, but this is what I think it is.) It's very hardy, and usually the buds make it too, though it's not as reliably bud-hardy as Professor Sargent. It tends to bloom a little later than Professor Sargent, though their bloom periods do overlap a good bit. I had its flowers last winter in with some other camellias in bowls and I could scarcely stop looking at it. It's wonderful, either by itself or next to other colors. And if it's given enough water when buds are forming, it can bloom well in almost total shade from deciduous trees.

You must have a lovely yard, Jay. Thanks again for your information!

Best wishes,
Mary

Here is a link that might be useful: Lady Van Sittart


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RE: White Japonicas with especially good shade tolerance

Dear carolinamary,
Are you familiar with _Camellia vernalis_ 'Dawn'? If not, it is another mid-winter white camellia that is fairly frost tolerant in Zone 7B. The blooms and foliage are sasanqua-like. This camellia will eventually become tree-sized, but it tends to be compact and attractive in the landscape. 'Setsugekka' is a good white sasanqua for our climate zone. It will grow very tall.

We have two 'Debutante' camellias located in different parts of the yard--one shaded by slash pines, the other by oaks. The pine-shaded 'Debutante' usually has an abundance of blooms around Thanksgiving. The oak-shaded 'Debutante' is several years younger than the other one and, oddly, seems to be inclined toward blooming in March. However, I don't think the plant is mature enough to know how it will eventually behave. I think 'Debutante' is a beautiful camellia, and I like the story of its origin as a chance seedling that lodged in the roots of a cypress tree at Magnolia Gardens, just before reaching the water and being lost forever to horticulture.

Our 'Mont Blanc' is a seedling of 'Lady Vansittart,' which is a prolific seed producer. There are several 'Lady Vansittart' seedlings scattered around the yard. Most of the ones that have bloomed seem to have inherited all of the good characteristics of the mother plant. In other words, they are pretty semi-doubles streaked with varying degrees of carmine. 'Mont Blanc' is the exception in that it is pure white. These seedlings are the children of the red sport of 'Lady Vansittart.' Our yard is a jungle with plants growing on top of other plants and wisteria running rampant. All the best, Jay


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RE: White Japonicas with especially good shade tolerance

>Are you familiar with _Camellia vernalis_ 'Dawn'? If not, it is another mid-winter white camellia that is fairly frost tolerant in Zone 7B. The blooms and foliage are sasanqua-like. This camellia will eventually become tree-sized, but it tends to be compact and attractive in the landscape.
Hi Jay,

I had just recently discovered it in a round-about way--noticing that a breeder used it intentionally in creating some crosses, so I wondered what it looked like... and was instantly impressed. I'd love to have it.

>'Setsugekka' is a good white sasanqua for our climate zone. It will grow very tall.

I'd noticed that one too, enough to specifically ask the nurseryman here whether he ever had that one. (No. But I still want it!)

>We have two 'Debutante' camellias located in different parts of the yard--one shaded by slash pines, the other by oaks. The pine-shaded 'Debutante' usually has an abundance of blooms around Thanksgiving. The oak-shaded 'Debutante' is several years younger than the other one and, oddly, seems to be inclined toward blooming in March. However, I don't think the plant is mature enough to know how it will eventually behave.

Regarding your two Debutante situations, I wonder whether the different tree varieties' roots might affect the amount of water available? (Theory: the more regular and plentiful the available water, the earlier and more prolific the blooming, as long as the drainage is good.) I think I might have read somewhere that pine trees have tap roots and fewer surface roots than many other trees. Oak trees are supposed to be pretty good for surfaced-rooted plants like rhododendrons and azaleas too--so they must have roots that will go deeply--but I don't think they have tap roots. The various kinds of oaks here have plenty of huge roots that are only about a foot below the surface.

Anyway, Debutante certainly does seem to be a camellia with lots of inclination to bloom at unpredictable times!

>I think 'Debutante' is a beautiful camellia

I adore the looks of the Debutante blooms... when we get them. There are just so few of them that survive the weather when they bloom here (tends to be January and February). Ours are all shaded by high deciduous trees. It's hard to know much about the one with a slightly altered situation with fewer tree roots underneath, since the plant is clearly virused and barely survived at all. We did get one beautiful bloom last winter from it, but probably we'll remove it. I don't think its virus is one of the many among those affecting camellias that cause no health effects at all, and I'm thinking we might inadvertently spread that virus to other camellias when cutting the blooms for the vase.

We got a beautiful bloom from one of our Debutantes a day or two just before last November 11. I think it might have started blooming a little earlier last year because of the plentiful rainfall? I wouldn't have remembered the date, except that I took a photo of a bowl of flowers to save on the computer's desktop and I just looked at the date on the photo, which was November 11. The ruffly Debutante was combined with several buttery-yellow and fragrant late-blooming Julia Child roses and I could barely stop looking at the combination.

>Our 'Mont Blanc' is a seedling of 'Lady Vansittart,' which is a prolific seed producer. There are several 'Lady Vansittart' seedlings scattered around the yard. Most of the ones that have bloomed seem to have inherited all of the good characteristics of the mother plant. In other words, they are pretty semi-doubles streaked with varying degrees of carmine. 'Mont Blanc' is the exception in that it is pure white. These seedlings are the children of the red sport of 'Lady Vansittart.'

Thanks for that information. I'm going to look for seedlings under ours too, but it's almost never watered, so whatever seedlings may have popped up probably wouldn't have made it.

I wonder whether Cam Forest Nursery might not like to do some propagating with your Mount Blanc? It sounds like a plant lots of people would like to have.

>Our yard is a jungle with plants growing on top of other plants and wisteria running rampant.

I think watching Tarzan as a youngster must have imprinted the Jungle Look on my brain; I love that look! I'm not much into formal gardens. Your yard sounds lovely, lovely...

Best wishes,
Mary


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