Camellia's begin their season when the rest of the garden is getting ready for winter and is becoming dormant. Decidous trees lose their foliage ready for the colder months. Camellia's brighten up any garden in winter with their most beautiful flowers. In the subtropical climate of Sydney Sasanquas begin to flower in early Autumn. For the next six months camellia's of all varieties will put on a fantastic display. Camellia's are starting to become more and more popular with small elegant style gardens. Garden designers use camellias as potted speciments that can be placed on a terrace, clipped and manicured for a formal effect or as a specimen in a small garden. Their flowers bring welcome colour in the autumn, winter and spring when the rest of the garden remains inactive. As camellia's are evergreen even when they are not flowering they provide a wonderful backdrop to garden during the warmer months.
Camellias are small trees and shrubs. They prefer protection from strong winds and hot sun, particularly morning sun that will burn delicate pale coloured blooms wet with dew. In the garden the best sites aer protected postions that face south or south-east in the Southern Hemisphere and north or north-west in the Northern Hemisphere. Filtered sunlight under trees is the ideal planting position for camellias. Be aware of surface rooted trees such as ficus, elms, willows and erythrinas as they will suck up all water from the camellia's, leaving them to dry out quite rapidly.
Some varieties in particular the sasanquas, are happy in full sun in temperate climates and some can withstand morning sun on the blooms in winter.
The ideal soil for camellias is rich, deep, well drained, full of organic matter (leaf litter) and slightly acid. Mulching your camellias is also very highly recommended to keep water moisture up and protect roots from wind. Soil should not be between 6 - 6.5ph. If your soil is over 7ph it will be necessary to add a acid compost to the garden to get the ph down.
Lack of iron is aone of the main problems in an alkaline soil. Another problem is magnesium deficiency. The symptoms of both deficiencies are similar (a yellowing of the leaves) so many people apply magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) as well as iron chelate. The regular application of slow release camellia food should alsy supply missing nutrients. The soil should always retain moisture but be well drained. Camellia's will not survive in water logged area's commonly known as "wet feet".
Applying mulch to your garden is always recommended. Most mulching materials need a lot of nitrogen to decompose, so it is a good idea to throw a handful of blood and bone around before you apply the mulch to ensure the soil is not deprived of nitrogen as it breaks down. This is particularly important when using sawdust, wood chips, bark and grass clippings.
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