Cool Plant: October 29, 2009

Professor Sargent Camellia
Camellia japonica 'Professor Sargent'

Species Native Range: Asia
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-9
Mature Size: 10-12 feet tall & wide
Exposure: Light to medium shade
Soil: Moist but well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Ease of Culture: Easy
Bloom Season: Mid-season
Flower: Class IV (peony form)

Professor Sargent camellia is an outstanding evergreen shrub with 2-3 inch deep, shiny green leaves, a full, thick growth habit and beautiful 4-inch red peony-like flowers which usually open from November to January. No southern garden should be without at least one camellia.

Grow camellias in light to medium shade or morning sun with protection from hot afternoon sun in soil that is high in organic matter, loose, slightly acidic and well-drained. Camellias do not perform well in compacted, poorly draining clay soil. Prune only as needed after flowering in the late winter or very early spring. Fertilize lightly with a slow-release fertilizer in the spring as new growth appears.

Use camellias in a shade or woodland garden, massed together as a screen or grown as specimens for winter interest. Make sure to allow enough space for the shrub's mature size. It is possible to limb up camellias to produce a tree-form plant, usually with multiple trunks. Good companion plants include: evergreen ferns (Christmas, Autumn), Lenten or Christmas Rose (Hellebores), fall and winter-blooming bulbs. One of the nicest Holiday displays I ever saw was a camellia in full bloom covered with white Christmas lights.

Although fairly pest free, camellias can suffer from tea scale (insect), flower blight (fungus) and leaf gall (fungus). Most of these can be treated by removal of the infected part or with a variety of products. For more information on growing camellias, read "Camellia Culture for Home Gardeners."

You may want to try one of the following local nurseries to see if they have this plant available:

Buck Jones Nursery in Grayson or Woodstock
John Deere Landscapes with multiple locations
Cofer's Home & Garden Showplace in Athens

For more nursery suggestions, contact the American Camellia Society.

If you have comments or questions about this article, please email me.

Unless noted otherwise, Images & Drawings Copyrighted © 2009 by Theresa Schrum - All rights reserved