The Q&A Archives: Camelia Exposure

Question: How critical is exposure to camelias? Will they tolerate full sunlight?

Answer: Camellias are mostly grown in semi-shade. Shade is particularly important in hot climates through summer. The ideal situation is one where light is filtered perhaps through the leaves of an overhanging tree. Some camellias can be grown in more sunny positions and some of these sun tolerant varieties are listed below. As a rule of thumb, the more color in a flower (that is the darker the flower color) the more tolerant it will be of sun. In sunny positions camellias need to be mulched and well watered. White flowered camellias generally need good protection from sun, including the early morning sun in winter.

C. 'Cinnamon Cindy' - A soft pink fading to almost white perfumed flowers. Tolerates sun and grows to 3m (10'). Can be pruned as a hedge or screening plant.
C. 'Sweet Emily Kate' - A sprawling, low growing shrub to 1m to 1.5m (3'-5') with perfumed, soft to mid-pink flowers. Slow growing. Will tolerate some sun.
C. japonica 'Grand Marshall' - A dark red flower with soft ruffled petals. Grows to 3m (10') and is sun tolerant.
C. 'Sweet Jane' - A variety which could be a good alternative to some C. sasanqua varieties. Delicate soft pink to white flowers occur over a long period. Sun tolerant, reaches 3m (10') and is suitable as a hedge or screen plant.
C. lutchuensis - A species camellia used to breed many of the more recent perfumed varieties. Tiny white perfumed flowers (not much bigger than 2cm (1") wide) for many months. The plant has a weeping habit, grows to around 4m (12'). Pale green leaves. Some sun tolerance.
C. reticulata 'Curtain Call' - Large flowers almost the size of dinner plates, mid-pink with a hint of apricot. Dense growth habit in the sun and needs room in the garden, growing up to 4m (13') and is wind intolerant.

When you purchase a camelia, be sure to read the label to see how sun tolerant it is so you won't be disappointed with its performance.

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