I’ve been asked many times about planting instructions, and this is a great question because camellias are different from other plants, in that, you will need to be aware of several things before deciding you are ready to plant them in the ground.
In general, most all camellias are quite hardy plants, and will give you years of enjoyment, blooming their beautiful and totally unique flowers for years to come. Some camellias are called “fast growers” because they literally grow fast, and within 30 years, more or less, can grow to be be very large, as big a tree.
Camellias are defined as ‘shrubs”, and some camellias varieties are known as are “slow growers’, in that, they are known to grow slowly. I will go into more about this topic, and also, discuss how far to plant them apart, etc, in another post in the future, but for now, will address specific planting info you’ll need to know before planting your camellias.
No.1). Do not plant them too deeply! Remember your camellias will settle/sink somewhat into the ground naturally with time, so keep this in mind. Keep the top portion of the plant, around the top circumference, about a half of an inch, or so, above the ground, so the top area of the root of the camellia is above the ground. Depending on how big your camellia root ball is, dig your hole about 6 inches wider than the total size of the root ball. This will allow for the camellia’s roots to expand.
No.2 ). Be sure to plant your camellia in an area of your yard that gets partial sunlight. This is very important! Planting camellias in an area with constant all day, full sunlight, will put a strain on your camellias health, and is not recommended at all, in general. You don’t want to plant them in an area that is total shade, and no sun, as they must have some sunlight to bloom.
It’s always best to always plant camellias in an area of your yard that gets some direct sunlight, but sunlight that is primarily filtered sunlight. Some direct sunlight, such as 1/3 of the day should be okay, and I have many of mine in areas like this, with some of them getting about 1/4, to sometime a 1/3 of the day’s sunlight, but as a rule, full sunlight, all day long, is simply way too much for camellias, and is not good.
No.3). Right before planting the camellia, I gently slice in on each side, front and back of the root ball (a hatchet works well), going in about 1/4 of an inch deep. Doing this, breaks up the often tightly wound up roots, and allows for the roots to expand once it has been planted in the ground.
No.4). I personally recommend adding some Peat Moss to your soil when planting. I usually add about a cup (8 ounces) or so of peat moss and mix it in with the top soil I use. I also add in some dead leaves for mulch. I seem to, no matter what season it is, always have plenty of leaves around on the ground (since I hardly ever rake my yard), and dead leaves work well as mulch. I add all of this, the peat moss, and leaves, in with the soil, and then lay the camellia root ball in the hole so that it lays flat on top of it, then fill in the sides with soil. You can also use peat moss to feed your camellias during the year. I will talk more about feeding, and what I use, in another post.
No.5). After planting your camellia(s), be sure to water them at least every 4 or 5 days or so, especially if there has been no rain, which lately here in Tallahassee, Fla, is something we have not had to worry about! But it is important to water them generously several times a week if possible, particularly when it has been hot and dry. My advise is to continue to water them for several years like this until their root system has been fully developed. The exception to this, of course, is if you have had a lot of continuing and consistent rain.
Good luck, and happy camellia planting!