|Camellia||(Camellia sp.)||A,C,F,R,S,W ^*|
| some say needs a little winter chill (in 50’s° F at night) for adequate flowering although is very frost-sensitive; prefers partial shade; do not fertilize when in bloom; feed every two to three weeks during growing season; hard prune during winter after flowering, then remove any spent flowers and trim to desired shape, though some say not easily shaped; CAN NOT be allowed to dry completely; increase watering during active growth, and when plant is in bloom; some growers recommend using Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) water; very prone to scale, aphid bugs, red spider mites, sooty mold, and weevils; should be repotted every two to three years, always in early spring months, but make sure you use lime-free humus rich soil, as it does not tolerate lime well; Sasanqua varieties have the smallest blossoms. [Theaceae; Ericales]
General information:The most famous member of the Camellia family is C. sinensis, the plant from which we get tea. Tea can be made from other Camellia species, but its flavor is not as desirable. But these other Camellias make showy bonsai, with beautiful flowers and shiny evergreen leaves. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates, and are often grown as an indoor bonsai when they cannot be kept otherwise. Most Camellias flower from fall through early spring.
When flower buds begin to appear, they are delicate. They may fall off if the plant is moved, or if there is too great a variation in temperature or light.
Lighting: Partial shade to full sun.
Temperature: Zone hardy to zones 8 or 9, depending on species. Never below 10F. Can be grown sucessfully indoors, but needs cool nights (between 40-60F, but 50-59F is best) in winter. Likes ventilation, but should be kept sheltered from strong winds.
Watering: Moderate, but as the root hairs are very fine, the plant CAN NOT be allowed to dry completely. Increase watering during active growth, and when the plant is in bloom. It is best to use decalcified (soft) water if possible. Likes an occasional misting, but do not mist while in bloom or the flowers will wither.
Feeding: Every 2-3 weeks, spring-autumn. Use a fertilizer such as Miracid, formulated for acid-loving plants, at half- strength. Do not fertilize while the plant is in bloom. The plant may also benefit from administering chelated iron 2-3 times a year.
Pruning and wiring: Wire from late spring to autumn, taking care to protect the delicate bark and branches. Do not wire while the plant is setting buds, and wire only lignified shoots. Young plants should be pruned after the shoots have developed 4-6 leaves, trimmimg back to 2-3 to establish branching. Pruning of established bonsai is best done following flowering, pruning only once and then allowing new shoots to set buds.
Propagation: By seed, soaking in warm water, for 24 hours, and then removing the outer casing. Fast germinating. Also hardwood cuttings can be taken from winter-summer, although rooting is slow and difficult. The use of rooting hormone and bottom heat of 72F is recommended. Air-layering is possible.
Repotting: Every 2-4 years in late winter or spring, following blooming. Likes acidic, humus rich soil. The roots are superficial and fine, so drastic root pruning is not recommended, and it is best if only 10% of the roots are removed.
Pests and diseases: Camellia is vulnerable to aphids, red spider mites sooty mold, weevils and chlorosis.
Some species suitable for bonsai: