Kent’s Korner – October 29, 2019

Queen of the South

Whether you are a longtime resident or new to the Lowcountry, take a moment
to appreciate the beautiful camellias that are beginning to bloom throughout the
community. Camellias are members of the tea family, Theaceae. While there are
two members of the family that are native to Beaufort County, fragrant Camellia
japonica were originally brought to South Carolina from China and Japan by
wealthy families who used them to adorn their formal gardens. Today, due to
hybridization, there are thousands of varieties of both Camellia japonica
and Camellia sasanqua to choose from.

When selecting a planting site for camellias, choose an area in filtered sun, with
adequate air movement, and good drainage. Camellias are best used as feature
plants rather than in a cramped foundation planting. Generally, smaller leafed
Camellia sasanqua will tolerate more sun than Camellia japonica, which exhibit
symptoms of leaf scorch if exposed to direct sun. Both species prefer moist but
not constantly wet conditions. In the sandy Lowcountry soils, these shallow
rooted shrubs benefit from the addition of compost at planting and normal break
down of leaf litter to enrich the soil. Selecting an appropriate planting site and
adhering to good cultural practices helps promote healthy plants that are less
prone to insect and disease problems. Happy camellias pay gardeners dividends
with vibrant winter blossom displays while many shrubs are dormant. If you are
interested in these shrubs, there are samples of seven different varieties planted
at the Camellia Garden across from the community dock.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’

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