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New England camellia growers?

Posted by bill_ri_z6b (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 23, 13 at 11:31

(I also posted this on the Camellia forum)

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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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New England camellia growers?

I wish, but they haven't yet developed plants for 5a. If I ever have cool, well-lit enclosed porch, sun space or greenhouse, I will surely get one or more since they are lovely.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Bill, growing in my yard is a low, rose-y bush that my parents always mow to the ground in the winter. This year I've let it grow out for the winter, and I'm curious to know if you'd identify it for me? I'm sure it's either a rose or a camellia.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Persimmons,
Can you post a photo?

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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi Bill,
This seems to be a good thread to introduce myself. I've been lurking on the forum for quite a while, and I've really enjoyed seeing your camellias and other zone-pushing plants. We've recently bought a house in zone 6b fairly close in to the Boston heat island, and I'm using your and (others on this forum) success as inspiration for what to plant.

Having lived in Maryland for 5yrs and getting to see the National Arboretum collection of camellias, I'm definitely planning on picking up one, or five, next spring. Made a trip down to Sylvan Nursery in Sept and saw they had a few types; I almost bought an April Kiss (I think), but figured I'd be patient and plant in the spring.

I'm particularly interested in pushing the spring season as early as I can, so I'm thinking of one of the korean-sourced varieties, which supposedly bloom very early: Longwood Valentine, Korean Fire, and a few others. Anybody had any luck with one of these?

Anyway, I hope to contribute more to the forum once I get this garden going in the near future!


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Sean - Welcome! For really early spring, also look at Hellebores, Iris reticulata, Winterhazel (Corylopsis), and witch hazel (Hamamelis.)

Sorry for the tangential hijack, Bill.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi Sean,

My "April" series live up to their names, and sometimes my oldest "April Blush" will produce blooms in March if it's a little milder than normal. I have a feeling that the younger ones may also do this once they're large enough to have 100+ buds as the older one does now. I notice that buds nearer the ground, or at the rear of the plant, closer to the wall, both of which mean a bit warmer microclimate, will usually open first.

I hope you find the ones that please you and have success with them.

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RE: New England camellia growers?

That's good to know about the April series...I think one of those will be on my list regardless. A witch hazel is also high on my wish list-thanks for the suggestions, nhbabs


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi Sean, nice to see a new face on the forum. :-) A little slow here this time of year.

This year will be the telling year for me to see if the Camellia I bought is going to work out. It's been in it's current location a year come spring. I didn't give it any winter protection this winter. I don't believe I have any flower buds on it this year. It suffered from the winter protection I provided last winter (a milk crate filled with leaves over the top of it) and dropped it's buds and some of the leaves. So it spent the growing season recovering and it grew back some of the leaves, but not flower buds and it's still small. If it does well, I want to get more and try them in multiple locations to find the perfect spot for them.

I would love to have a witch hazel too. It's one of those shrubs that I wish I had planted a long time ago and by now I would have a fairly large specimen. I've read that 'Arnold's Promise' is very popular. I would also like to know if anyone has one that they like. Maybe we could start a new thread.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Bill,

Sorry to take a bit to get back to you with some photographs. Here's a few shots of what I'm thinking is a very unhealthy pair of rose bushes. The more I look at the photographs, the more these seem like roses.

But, I think I should move these to a sunnier location. Right now they're planted at the foundation of the north side of the house (in shade). What's your opinion?

About camellias: do you produce tea from your plants? --or are they strictly ornamental? I'm curious about growing the plant for home-grown tea, and am wondering if you're capable of brewing the leaves of your plants?


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Here's a shot of the leaves and stem that I saved from the annual mowing-to-the-ground.

I want to move these plants to a place where they won't continue to be neglected.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi Sean, and welcome to the forum!

I'm very interested in late winter flowers too - winter down here on Cape Cod seems to drag on forever.

The plants mentioned above are all great. I have two favorite witch hazels, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' which is red, and 'Arnold Promise' which is a lovely yellow. They often start blooming in late January.

Helleborus niger (aka Christmas rose) is blooming now, and will continue until mid-spring, with the creamy white flowers turning pink. H. foetidus (the so-called stinking hellebore, although it has no scent that I can detect) is just starting to flower; it's a little later than H. niger and maybe not quite as showy, with greenish flowers that sometimes have red margins. The most common hellebore, the orientalis or x hybridus, is forming buds in a great range of colors; they won't begin to really put on a show until early February. Most of the more exotic types, like the Corsican, which have really great foliage, bloom later in spring, not quite as important to me, since there's so much blooming at that time.

If you have a sheltered spot for it, Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine) is a must-have plant for February/March color; it's said to be hardy in zone 6, but I guess it would depend on your microclimate.

Don't forget winter heath, Erica carnea, if you have a sunny well-drained spot for it. Mine are just starting to bloom now, and they'll look good right through the winter.

I've had a lot of failures with camellias, I think mainly because I've planted them in areas where maple roots out-compete for available water. Right now I have one that's survived for a couple of years, but I'm not sure what type it is. If it ever flowers, I'll most certainly post photos so I can get an ID.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

DTD, Thanks for the Witch Hazel Recommendations. I've seen 'Diane' in photos but not in person. Good to know it has performed well for you. You have given me a vision of having these two shrubs next to each other. I wonder
if they bloom at the same time? And do they have fall color?


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RE: New England camellia growers?

While I was out today, I checked out the Camelia to see how it was doing and it's looking very good. I hope it continues to until spring.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi PM2!

They bloom at about the same time, and always overlap, if they don't start out exactly in synch. The reason I like to mention the varieties, especially Diane, is that I also had a Jelena, which is more of a rusty color, and in my garden it was not very effective - from a distance, the flower color was too close to brown to be very appealing.

I'm sure others love Jelena, and I don't want to insult anyone. It may just be a personal preference, or even something about the light in my little yard, but I was fairly happy to decide mine was in decline and remove it a few years ago.

Just place them where they'll be easiy seen in February (or maybe March, since you're further north?). When Diane is back-lit in the afternoon, it looks like it's on fire - really stunning.

I think there are some newer varieties that might be more floriferous, or earlier, or ... something ... than Arnold, but I'm really happy with that one too; healthy, nice form, colorful, and vigorous.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Hi DTD, 'Diane' sounds great and glad you mentioned about having it backlit in the afternoon, because that must be a real bonus. I hope I can go looking for one this spring, instead of wishing I had one. And 'Arnold's Promise' is still getting a lot of great reviews. Thanks!


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RE: New England camellia growers?

I have a Camellia Spring's Promise. Right now it is covered in blossoms. A few started to open in November, but were cut short by the onset of cold weather that set in earlier than normal. I hope that these blossoms will open in the warmth of early spring. I tried to give it the perfect site. It is situated so that it gets no morning sun. It is also in a well protected spot with no exposure to north winds.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Persimmon,
I don't know why the roses are cut down every year, but they are tougher than people think. Actually, the stems look very healthy to me. I think if you move them to a sunnier spot they will surprise you! Do you know if they are a hybrid or just wild seedlings? If they bloom, you should have an idea of what they are.

Ann, your camellia looks good now. I see a few buds. But I am concerned about this unusually cold weather they're predicting for this weekend.

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RE: New England camellia growers?

Rockman, since you are in zone 6b, you should do better than my zone 6a. But for both of us, this winter should be a good test, as it seems a little more harsh than some winters we've had recently.

Bill, we've had single digit temps here for a couple of stretches. I think we are due to get 6 inches at least on Thursday and Friday, so I think that will help when the temps dip again. But, it will or it won't, and I think it is doing better on it's own this year, than it did last year with the 'help' I tried to give it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Happy New Year!


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RE: New England camellia growers?

My camellias look OK.................for now. Time will tell. What may well happen is that the plants will be OK but the buds may get damaged. For the larger plant ("April Blush") buds nearer the fence, the ground or just inside among the leaves may be OK and those on the outside, especially to the west (windy) side may get damaged.

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RE: New England camellia growers?

DTD, prairiemoon, thanks for the suggestions! I'm hoping to plant an Arnold Promise next year, or possibly a 'Barmstedt Gold', which I have never seen, but I think is a similar color that blooms several weeks earlier. I'll have to research hellebores some more, and winter jasmine sounds great if I can find a spot for it. I've already gotten started with the erica carnea, you can see some pics I posted in the photo thread.

rockman, great to hear a report that Spring's Promise blooms reasonably well here. I may try one of those, too! (My eyes are bigger than my yard-at some point I'll have to prioritize!) Also, I did note that camforest sells a 'little leaf' variety of the tea camellia, which is supposedly hardy to z6b. Who knows, maybe you can actually grow your own tea around here!


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Glad you are finding some plant material to think about that keep the gardening fires burning until spring. :-) I've added witch hazel to my list for spring too.

And growing your own tea? Now if there is a shrub that can produce 'Earl Grey' I'm there with you! Who wouldn't want to grow their own?


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Bill,

The roses in the pictures bloom a fuchsia color. They're surrounded by azaleas, which are thriving in that spot. I'm guessing it's because of the relative shadiness on that side of the house.

Do you recommend moving the roses asap in the spring, or should I wait until summer is in full gear? I'm not concerned about blooms/losing a season of blooms. The plants are raggedy and will probably die if I don't move them within the next few years..


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RE: New England camellia growers?

I would move the roses as soon as you can work the soil, Roses tend to leaf out very early. I am wondering, since you say they are "fuchsia) in color, and since they have been cut down so many times, if these aren't just the rootstock onto which hybrids had once been grafted. Most hybrid teas,etc. have a rootstock such as "Dr. Huey" (rambling with dark red flowers), or some other varieties. If the hybrid graft is killed or cut off, then the understock will thrive and grow and that's all you'll have left. If that's the case, they may not be worth moving or saving, since all you'll get is long, rambling canes of not-so-pretty flowers. If you want some nice roses that bloom all season, need almost no care, and stay as a shrub (3x3' to maybe 6x6') look at the Knockout roses. Red, pinks, yellow, white and apricot. This photo was late October so not as covered with flowers as earlier in the season, but still going strong. (You can see the all spent blooms.)

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RE: New England camellia growers?

Now that the weather is a bit warmer, can any of you who grow Camellias tell how your plants fared in the winter's unusally cold weather, or is it still too early to judge?


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RE: New England camellia growers?

NHBabs,

So far they look fine. It was 55 degrees here today and sunny earlier, so I went out and took a look. The buds are plump and there is no sign of damage on any of the leaves. But sometimes damage shows up later, so fingers crossed. My Gardenia "Frostproof" shows some leaf damage but not too bad, for now. Rosemary "Arp" and "Barbecue" both look pretty toasted, but I think they'll come back from the thick wood or roots. My windmill palm only shows green in the leaf stalks. The leaves/fronds themselves are dead. But I think it will come back from the center. Last year it was almost the same, but made 7 gorgeous, healthy fronds by mid-summer.

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RE: New England camellia growers?

My camellia is sporting extensive browning on the top half of the plant. This all stemmed from the one below zero morning we had down here in early January (-6). The bottom half of the plant was covered in snow and shows no damage. But the stems up top are still green with the scratch test, so I think it will be fine. Also, so far, my very large Crape Myrtle is OK----I think. I scratched a branch high up and it was fleshy dark green below the bark. So that is a good sign. But February might offer some additional challenging cold I suspect.


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RE: New England camellia growers?

Rockman,
What variety is your Camellia?

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RE: New England camellia growers?

Spring's Promise


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RE: New England camellia growers?

That one is supposed to be hardy to 6B, although I suppose that doesn't mean it won't lose some leaves. As long as the stems are green beneath the bark, it should be OK. May look a little shabby for a while, but they make pretty fast growth.

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