Autumn: September to November
Very early: November to end of December
Early: early January to mid-February
Mid-season: mid-February to end of March
Late: March to mid-May
Culture and care advice
The camellia is hardy in most regions of France, and in temperate countries of Europe. It grows wonderfully under the influence of a mild and humid climate.
By respecting certain conditions of exposure and planting, the Camellia can be cultivated almost everywhere in France.
It supports harsh winters, with temperatures of the order of -25 ° C., the subjects over several hundred years testify to this.
Sheltered from dry winds and drafts; partial shade in general, sun possible in mild areas with good atmospheric humidity.
The camellia grows, in many places, in the soil of origin, if it is acidic. Elsewhere, it is necessary to add an acidic soil which will ensure good vegetation. A good mixture can be obtained from real heather earth, peat, a mold of decomposed leaves, and even some light and non-calcareous garden earth, the main thing being to obtain a substrate of good particle size, allowing the slow passage of water and aeration of the roots. All clay, heavy, compact soils are to be avoided. Excess water must always be able to drain.
Autumn is an ideal time, as the plants are free to root before the heat of the following summer. However, potted plants can be planted until the end of May, if watering is well monitored.
The planting hole should be much larger than the pot. Place a certain thickness of well-prepared substrate at the bottom of this hole. Soak the root ball in a container, until they are completely soaked. If the roots show significant felting, "scratch" them gently, in order to "peel" them off. Place the prepared root ball at the bottom of the hole. Fill it all around with the substrate. Tamp with the foot. Once the operation is finished, the top of the root ball should be covered with very little soil, by flushing the collar. Make a crown around the plant to form a bowl. Water abundantly. Protect the soil with good mulching to keep a more lasting freshness during the summer. In winter, it effectively protects the roots, preventing the earth from freezing. This mulch can be made of different materials: straw, leaves, sand, bark, etc.
In limestone regions, there are two ways to obtain beautiful Camellias:
1 - Cultivation in a container : After choosing a container, repot the Camellia in the acid substrate indicated above. Make sure to respect the same exposure rules. During a cold winter, to avoid freezing of the roots (they are less protected than in open ground), take care to shelter the plant in a suitable place. Otherwise, surround the tank with protection (insulating cover, straw, etc.).
2 - Cultivation in a pit: After having dug a hole, line it with one or more plastic sheets with a few holes. Place a bed of gravel at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. You can also bury a large container or a well nozzle.
Camellias likes fresh soil. Water needs are of course more frequent during the summer season. Pay particular attention during the first year of planting. Avoid excess water which would maintain high stagnant humidity. In limestone regions, it is good to water with rainwater from roofs, which is always acidic.
In some areas where the atmosphere is particularly dry, it may be useful to spray water on the foliage during the summer season. Sometimes the mere presence of a nearby fountain is enough for it.
It is not essential to prune Camellias, and thus we obtain free or trellised forms of the most beautiful effect. But if you want to obtain geometrically shaped subjects, such as a ball, pyramid, or stem, the Camellia is one of the plants that best supports this operation, just like boxwood or yew. If you are determined to prune, do it after flowering, in the spring, because the Camellia will form its buds during the summer.
Vegetation accidents, diseases, predators
Falling buds : This is most often attributed to the dryness of the atmosphere, a draft of dry air or lack of watering. To remedy this, it is necessary to sprinkle copiously, and make sure that the poured water penetrates the root ball right through. Spray water on the foliage, to restore good humidity.
Chlorosis : (or yellowing of the leaves). This is due to three main causes:
1 - The most frequent: excess limestone . To remedy this, you must use an acid soil and bring iron chelate, if the Camellia is too often watered with hard water. Rainwater harvesting is the ideal solution.
2 - Excess moisture. Water collects at the base of the plant and suffocates the roots. This is remedied by good drainage.
3 - Lack of food, and prolonged lack of water. This chlorosis is accompanied by a general lack of vigor. The remedy consists in fertilizing the Camellia with an organic fertilizer, from the beginning of the vegetation, at the first sunny days. The operation is repeated at the end of summer by reducing the dose in half (as the Camellia has evergreen leaves, it also feeds in winter, although slowly).
Otiorhynchus : These small gray beetles, about one centimeter long, attack most plants. They are nocturnal and do not fly. During the day, they take refuge at the foot of the plants, hidden under the leaves and plant debris. At night, they feed on the leaves which they cut with a "cookie cutter"; the concern is that they lay eggs and that the larvae eat the rootlets then the roots and finally the root of the plant ... There are biological treatments available on the market, based on antagonistic nematodes, which can be very effective.
NB: Planting and care can be applied more or less to all heather earth plants.