Page 41 - South Mississippi Living - March, 2023
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   story by Gaye Winter
photos courtesy of Eudora Welty’s House and Garden
can also plant camellias where they To keep camellias healthy, you may want August to May with these beauties (just
get northern and eastern exposure with morning sun and afternoon shade. Camellias do well in the mild climate of the southeast because they are protected from the winter wind and sustained temperatures below 15F.
Do not overcrowd your camellias as they need breathing room to grow. Camellias can become large shrubs in ten years or so. Plan for them to grow about 10-12’ tall and 8-10’ wide. Be sure and find the perfect spot for them to grow.
Keep in mind that camellias like well- drained, acidic soil. They also do not like wet soil; therefore, you will see camellias planted on mounds or elevated. This
is a great solution for gardens that stay wet or soggy year-round. A light layer of mulch from pine bark or pine straw will maintain soil moisture and reduce weeds. After established, water them only as needed. For example, water camellias if you are experiencing more than a week of temperatures above 90F with no rain.
to apply an organic acid-based fertilizer like Holly-Tone in early spring and mid fall.
When pruning camellias, always prune right after they bloom. That means you will not be removing any flower buds. You can protect your younger plants from natural pruning by animals like deer by enclosing the plants in a metal cage or using a repellant like I Must Garden. Check your camellias’ leaves occasionally for “scale” which is a pest and will colonize on the backside of the leaf. Yellow spots on the foliage could be an indication of the insects. The American Camellia Society website has information on all aspects of camellias including growing camellias, pruning camellias, and pesticide free ways to rid your flowers of scale and other pests.
Camellia Japonica (Japanese Camellia) is from the tea family. With so many varieties of camellias to choose from, you can keep your garden growing from
to name a few): Miss Biloxi Camellia, Japonica Crimson Candles, Japonica October Affair, Japonica La Peppermint, Japonica Seafoam, and Japonica Royal Velvet.
Experiment and see which ones you love! More information can be found at the American Camellia Society website: Remember, camellias can add blooming color to any winter landscape! Happy Gardening!
Gaye Winter, Ph.D., teaches English at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community
College and is a member of Biloxi Garden Club. Reach her at
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