Growing Camellias

Choosing a spot

  • Plant in light shade. Camellias do best in light shade that protects them from hot afternoon sun. About 4 to 6 hours of sunlight is ideal but they will grow in medium shade and even in full sun if needed. As a camellia grows, it can tolerate more sun. This also depends on what climate you are planting the camellia in. If you are in a climate that never gets very hot, then a camellia can cope with a spot with less shade.
  • Ensure your site has well draining soil. Camellias don’t like constantly being in very soggy soil.
  • Keep camellias out of the path of wind during winter. The more sheltered the Camellia, the better the flowering will be.


  • Dig a hole that is two feet wider than the root ball of the plant. The hole should be several inches deeper than the root ball.
  • Place the root ball in the hole, making sure the top is slightly above or level with the soil level. Camellias are sensitive to being planted too deeply so you may want to place the root ball about 2 inches above the soil level since the Camellia is likely to sink a bit. Fill the rest of the hole with a mixture of topsoil and organic material.
  • Press the dirt around the plant down so that it is firmly in place. Slope the dirt up the sides to meet the top of the root ball, Then give the plant a deep watering.
  • Use deep watering. Camellias love deep watering about twice weekly, rather than daily shallow watering. This is partially because camellias love generally moist soil as opposed to soggy soil. Giving a deep soak allows the soil to have a generally moist consistency for longer. Water regularly for the first year as the Camellia is getting established. 
  • Mulch around your camellia. Mulching will help keep moisture in the ground and it will keep the soil cooler on hot summer days. In addition, mulch will help keep weeds at bay. The mulch should not touch the trunk of the plant.
  • Apply a suitable fertilizer every spring. Camellias are considered heavy feeders, meaning that they need a lot of nutrients from the soil in order to thrive. This will ensure lush growth and good flowering each season. Cottonseed meal and fish emulsion are good natural choices. Two or three feedings between April 1 and September 1 is all that is necessary.


  • Shape bushes to your liking. To begin with, remove leggy or lanky branches that stick out and don’t look good. Then prune for general shape. Pruning should also be done to shape the plant so it fits into your landscape and to keep it at a good height for tea picking.