Late-Blooming Camellias For A Winter Floral Fix

In the quiet space after the excitement of fall fruits and foliage and just before the first blooms of roses, winter-into-spring blooming Japanese camellias fill the garden with fresh color and a bit of over-the-top storybook romance.

Camellia japonica blooms from late December through March depending on the variety. Right now, in early fall is a perfect time in to plant them when the young fat buds and early blooms show the flower’s color, shape, and form.

No garden with well-draining soil and a bit of shade (morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal conditions) should be without these remarkable flowering shrubs. Did we mention they’re a perfect fit for containers?  And that the flowers are an excellent high-protein food for early pollinators? More? How about a  fragrant one! Here are just a few to get you started. Visit your local garden center to see even more options. Find yours here.

(Note: C. japonica’s cousins, the sasanquas bloom much earlier from September to December, again depending on the variety. Here are a few of our C. sasanqua favorites.)

Kramer’s Supreme Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Deep red buds open to magnificent peony-like, rosy-red flowers with a delightful fragrance. An old mid-season  favorite. Full shade to filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Fun Fact: Why are there so few fragrant C. japonica? Winter bloomers, they face little competition from other blooming plants that might to draw away pollinators. So, if scent is on your winter garden wish list, enjoy this one.

For Colder Zones (6 and up)

Note: While most camellias prefer to be grown in zones 8 and above, a few have been bred to thrive in colder places. Consult with your local garden center about the best time to plant these, as depending on your particular situation, spring may be preferable to fall.

Spring’s Promise Ice Angels® Camellia
Zone: 6 – 10

Hardy with large, vivid, rose-colored mid-to-late season blooms. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide, larger with age.

Use: Show-stopping evergreen hedge!

April Remembered Ice Angels® Camellia
Zone: 6 – 10

Stately with semi-double pink flowers with golden stamens. Full shade to filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Under mature oaks, conifers, maples.

Buttermint Camellia
Zone: 7 – 10

Beautiful buttery-yellow, semi-double smaller blooms adorn stems mid-winter to spring. Fresh, light scent puts it over the top. Filtered sun. Up to 6′ tall and 4′ wide.

Use: Woodland or semi-shady spaces.

Early-Season Bloomers

Kick-off the new year and banish any of winter’s gloom with a early-blooming camellias that will brighten all corners of the garden. Add some early-blooming hellebores for a totally dazzling show.

Silver Waves Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Large, silvery white, yellow-centered, semi-double blooms contrast glossy dark green leaves. Full shade to filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Bright blooms to light up shady spaces.

Nuccio’s Bella Rossa Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Look at those crimson-red petals! Abundant flowers open slowly over a long period for lengthy bloom season. Full shade to partial sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Wonderful formal effect when massed.

 Debutante Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Light-pink, peony-style blooms are a delightful contrast to the glossy, dark green leaves. Full shade to filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Perfect for north side of house.

Mid-Season Bloomers

As the garden begins to shake off the worst of winter, the next round of camellias start to open adding a luxe layer to the other earlier bloomers like flowering fruit trees and flowering shrubs such as Pieris and Daphne.

Mathotiana Supreme Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10 

Memorably covered tip to toe with loads of huge double blossoms in a dazzling flaming crimson red. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Ideal to cover fences and walls.

Nuccio’s Gem Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10 

Exquisite, right? Look for abundant sparkling-white petals to unfurl from tight buds over a long season. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Add height to formal borders.

Chandleri Elegans Variegated Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Spectacular, anemone-form, rose-pink blooms. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Just lovely in a cottage setting.

Late-Season Bloomers

Just as the roses, magnolias, and many flowering shrubs are coming on, late blooming camellias, not to be outdone, wrap up their season with a final spectacular display. As the flowers subside you begin to once again appreciate the role of these elegant evergreen shrubs in the garden.

Swan Lake™ Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Snow-white peony-like flowers dance on graceful upright branches against glossy, dense foliage.Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use:  Can a privacy screen get any better?!

Pearl Maxwell Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Large clusters of shell-pink, double flowers cover this large, leafy beauty that’s both formal yet deeply romantic. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Perfect candidate for an espalier.

Colonel Firey Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

An heirloom camellia loved for generations due to it’s perfectly-formed deep-red flowers and useful upright form. Filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide; larger with age.

Use: Statuesque specimen or small tree.

Did you find this story useful and interesting? Please share it with others who also love to garden (use the icons at the top of this page). And, consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter (Plant Savvy, sent the first Thursday of each month direct to your inbox) to be in the know!

If you need specific advice for a tricky spot, please leave a comment below. For even more choices, please consult with your local garden center (find one here).

Monrovia reserves the right to remove comments deemed offensive, vulgar or inappropriate at any time without explanation.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show 4 comment(s)

Back to Top