Camellias add color to the greenhouse or winter garden in winter. Particularly robust varieties can even decorate the frosty garden with protection.
Camellias ( Camellia japonica ) are also called “roses of winter”, but this is not because of their love for frosty temperatures, but because of the flowering period, which, depending on the variety, extends from September to May. Because even if wintery names like ‘Ice Angel’ attract with the promise of insensitivity to ice and snow, no camellia variety in the home garden is completely hardy.
But with the right winter protection, the optimal location, and a skillful choice of variety, your camellias can still overwinter in the bed. Otherwise, the pot with the evergreen winter flowers will simply move to the protected winter quarters. We’ll show you how to get your camellia over the winter, regardless of whether it is in a pot or a bed.
Hibernating camellias: this is important to note
Although none of the more than 20,000 camellia varieties are considered completely hardy, a few varieties can survive winter outside the home. However, this is only possible in a well-protected corner so that the still sensitive little plants are not completely defenseless against the frosty tides. When planting your camellias, you should therefore take care of the location conditions that allow the small frostbite to survive the winter planted in the bed. Especially in regions where the temperatures sometimes drop below -12 ° C, it is important to create an ideal microclimate. In general, there are the following things to consider when wintering camellias in the garden.
Planting conditions for camellias:
- Do not plant camellias until they are around five years old, as young plants usually have too little resistance to withstand the cold.
- Plant your camellia in a place protected from the wind, for example on a house wall, a fence, or a hedge.
Winter protection for camellias:
- The root area is covered with breathable garden fleece, a coconut mat, or a thick layer of mulch.
- A warm layer of spruce branches, brushwood, leaves, or moss offers additional protection.
- Pour lime-free water on frost-free days when the soil above ground has dried so that the root ball is never completely dry.
If particularly frosty temperatures are to be expected, the above-ground part is wrapped with fleece as protection against the cold and to prevent it from drying out. The plants are shaded by the fleece and lose less water through transpiration (frost protection). When the severe frost phase is over, the fleece is removed again so that the plants get enough light.
As an alternative to wrapping with fleece, you can also loosely wrap the plants with wire mesh and fill the gap up to half the height of the plant with leaves. This way, your camellias will still get enough light. At very cold temperatures or when the plants are young, the upper part is also covered with leaves. Cuddly wrapped up and therefore well protected from the sun and cold fire, your camellias survive Father Frost’s annual visit even when they are planted in the garden.
Note: Remember that the flowering of your camellias in the bed can never reach the size and splendor of those specimens that spend the winter in a bright, optimally tempered winter garden or greenhouse.
Hibernate camellias in a pot
In the pot, camellias are housed in frost-free winter quarters, because especially with plants kept in pots there is a great risk in the cold season that the soil in the pot will freeze through and the pretty plants will not survive the frosty period. You should still wait as long as possible before moving to the winter residence. The camellias stay outside until the temperatures drop below freezing for longer periods or are below -5 ° C at the latest. Then the plants have to move to bright winter quarters.
When overwintering your camellias, pay attention to the following conditions and you can enjoy your Asian beauties again next year:
- Temperature: 5 – 15 ° C
- Humidity: about 60%
- When the soil has dried above ground, pour it with lime-free water so that the soil never dries out completely.
- Spray lime-free, lukewarm water or set up a humidifier to increase the humidity.
- There is no need to fertilize until flowering.
It should absolutely be avoided to exceed the limit of 15 ° C in winter. Because camellias need a resting phase of at least six weeks a year. This is decisive for the flower quality and duration. Heated rooms are therefore not suitable as winter quarters. Under the influence of the warm and above all dry heating air, the tender plants quickly shed their buds and drastically shorten their flowering phase. An unheated winter garden, a greenhouse, or a staircase with windows is therefore ideal.
Once you have decided on winter quarters, it should not be changed either, because the tea bushes do not like a spontaneous change of scenery. In January or February, the camellias can finally be relocated again. The temperatures should be at least 5 ° C at night. When wintering pot camellias, it is not only the spatial environment that is decisive, there are also a few things that should be taken into account when planting.
If you let your camellias overwinter in the dark, for example in the cellar, the plants must first be slowly accustomed to a lighter and warmer environment after the cold darkness. To do this, the winter sleepers can first wander into the hallway and slowly be watered again.
Hardy camellia varieties: a selection
With camellias, you should always keep in mind that although some varieties have been selected for as good winter hardiness as possible, the Far Eastern plants have not yet been made completely hardy. The extra robust varieties are mostly the result of crossing the species Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua.
We present 20 particularly cold-tolerant and beautiful camellia varieties for wintering outdoors:
- Alba Plena: Double, white flowers from October to January; Growth height up to 2.4 m
- Anticipation: pink flowers from February to May; Growth height up to 4 m
- Black Lace: Double, dark red flowers from March to April; Growth height up to 2.5 m
- Bonomiana: Pink flowers with pink-red stripes from February to April; Growth height up to 2.5 m
- Debbie: Double, pink flowers from February to April; Growth height up to 2.5 m
- Donation: Semi-double, pink flowers
- Elegans: Pink flowers with white speckles from December to May
- Hagoromo: pale pink flowers from February to April; Growth height up to 3 m
- Hiroshi: Red flowers from February to May; Growth height up to 3 m
- April Dawn: White-pink flowers with bright pink stripes from February to April; Growth height up to 2 m
- Winter’s Snowman: White flowers from October to December; Growth height up to 3.5 m
- Matterhorn: Double, white flowers from February to May
- Mikuni-no-homare: Soft pink-pink mottled flowers
- Nuccio’s Gem: Double, white flowers from March to April; Growth height up to 2.5 m
- Spring’s Promise: pink flowers in April; Growth height up to 2.5 m
- Tricolor: Blooms from February to April in pink, white and red; Growth height up to 1.5 m
- Spring Festival: salmon pink flowers from February to April
- Wheeler: Semi-double, dark pink flowers from February to April
- Winter’s Joy: Semi-double, bright pink flowers from October to January; Growth height up to 2 m
- Winter’s Star: Purple-red flowers from October to November
Alternatively, you can also use the camellia species Camellia sasanqua. This species already blooms in autumn and gives off a bewitching scent. However, Camellia sansanqua does not come close to the colorful and lush flowers of Camellia japonica.
You can find further tips for the ideal care of your camellia here in our special article.