Ask a Question forum: Will potted Camellia survive NYC winter?

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Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
Sep 24, 2017 3:17 PM CST
I bought a camellia (variety unknown) from a local garden store for my terrace in NYC this past spring and so far it seems to be thriving. It's about 3 feet tall and is in a square 12 x 12 heavy plastic container. The guy at the store said it would survive the winter outdoors but I am deeply skeptical. Won't the whole pot freeze solid? Should I move it in for the winter? Any help much appreciated.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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Sep 24, 2017 11:27 PM CST

I am also skeptical.

A plastic pot will not offer a lot of insulation so whatever your hardiness zone is, subtract 2. If you are in Zone 7 (a guess), your plant will have to survive in Zone 5.

There are a few cold hardy camellias out there but unless you specificly purchased one from a specialty nursery, you don't have one.

You will have to move it indoors for the winter BUT, it needs to have a cool winter home. Your camellia will go dormant - indoor warm temps will kill it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Sep 25, 2017 6:35 AM CST
Your camellia is beautiful. You could try putting the pot into another larger pot and fill that with leaves and mulch to insulate the root ball and move it as close to your apt wall as possible away from the winds. Other members will have more advice for you. Welcome! to the forum

Daisy good guess, he's either 7a or 7b Smiling
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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Sep 25, 2017 6:45 AM CST
Doubtful. Most camellias aren't hardy in our zone. Bring it indoors. Not sure it will survive the dry heat though. The NYBG has had trouble keeping them alive and they are experts!
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
Sep 25, 2017 1:23 PM CST
Thanks, all of you, for the responses. I have decided to move it inside and place it by an uncovered a/c unit, through which a cold draft blows all winter. Will hope for the best...
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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Sep 25, 2017 1:26 PM CST
Good luck with it!
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
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Sep 25, 2017 5:08 PM CST
Perhaps you might enjoy hearing about a beautiful Camellia, now more than 230 years old. This gorgeous tree lives in the Schloss Garden in Pillnitz near Dresden. Some years ago we did a river tour on the Elbe and visited the beautiful gardens. Now this ancient Camellia is protected from cold Winter temperatures by a moveable glass house, a greenhouse on tracks.
Here is the glass house in Sept. 2006 at our visit. If you image google
"Das Geheimnis der Kamelia" , and add the location "Pillnitz" to your search, you will see the gorgeous large tree and the greenhouse from different angles.
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I know, this might not help you much, but perhaps you might find it interesting. Smiling

added: Climate of Pillnitz, Germany
[Last edited by Ursula - Sep 25, 2017 5:16 PM (+)]
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Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
Sep 26, 2017 12:13 PM CST
Thank you for the info, Ursula. Remarkable plant! Also a good weather site that was new to me.
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
Oct 9, 2017 2:00 PM CST
Follow-up question: Now that my camellia is indoors and presumably dormant or about to be, should I continue to water it? Does it need light when it's dormant? Apologies for the newbie questions...
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Oct 9, 2017 3:18 PM CST
I think the risk of warm temps all winter long is a greater threat than the normal cold temps we experience in NYC. Most of the Camellia cultivars are descendants of Camellia Japonica which is listed for Zones as low as 5. I would leave it outside and wrap the planter with burlap or an old blanket and wrap that in plastic. Then, let nature take care of the watering.
Will Creed
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Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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Oct 9, 2017 3:26 PM CST
Indoors, as long as the leaves are green, it will need water. Don't give it a lot of water, just enough that the soil does not dry out.
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Oct 13, 2017 7:20 AM CST
I feel the draft from your AC will be too much for it, its supposed to be a very cold winter here in the Northeast
Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Oct 13, 2017 8:27 AM CST
Your photo looks like one of the cold-hardy camellias in the April series. I have two of them, April Kiss and April Rose, both in the ground right next to my house, facing east and protected from winds. April series camellias are beautiful! You can read about the April series here:


And here:

I would keep them outside with the pot wrapped well with insulating material and the plant protected from cold winds.

Here are instructions from William L. Ackerman's book, "Beyond the Camellia Belt: Breeding, Propagating and Growing Cold-Hardy Camellias":

"Microfoam, or some similar inslating material, should be tightly wrapped around the sides and bottom of the container and open enough at the top for watering. This in turn, should be 'planted' into a much larger container with dry peat moss packed between the two containers. A plastic sheet should cover the top of the space between the two containers. This will keep the peat reasonably dry if subjected to rains. One caution: since there is limited drainage provided for the plant, it should not be overwatered. Protection for the above-soil portion of the plant may be provided with Microfoam. Here it will be important to open the top during warm spells and close it again with clothes pins during cold spells."

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Perhaps a more convenient insulating material than peat moss could be used in the outer pot.
Carol H. Sandt

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. — Maya Angelou
Brooklyn, NY (Zone 7b)
Oct 14, 2017 4:36 PM CST
Thanks again for all the very helpful responses. I've decided to move it back out onto my terrace, right up against the house next to an a/c wall unit through which a good amount of heat probably escapes. I'll follow the instructions for insulating and shielding and hope for a mild winter. Looking forward to finding out whether it's a fall-blooming or spring-blooming variety!
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
Charter ATP Member Region: United States of America Deer Region: New York Birds Cat Lover
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Oct 15, 2017 8:19 AM CST
BrunanteBoy, personally I think you made the right choice. Up here in the Mid Hudson Valley we have been warned of our first hard frost for Monday night, hope it doesnt happen, I'll be rushing today to bring in all my tropicals.

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