Garden Gem

Camellia yuhsienensis… Don’t let the name scare you

Camellias are ubiquitous across the Alabama landscape. Gardeners generally group the cool season bloomers as fall or winter bloomers. The sasanqua types bloom in fall and fade into winter, but the japonica varieties carry on through the early spring. Unbeknownst to most, there are many camellia species that bloom in an array of color, flower forms, and seasons.  There are yellow blooming tropical species, a relatively newly discovered summer blooming species, and highly fragrant species … all from Southeast Asia. Domestically, gardeners can look forward to some fancy new varieties thanks to adventurous breeders.

One species that has performed well in my garden is Camellia yuhsienensis. Don’t let the name scare you. The bi-lobed petals give the white flowers a fanciful look. The plant blooms in mid to late winter and takes heat and cold in stride. Most camellias enjoy shade, but nothing too dark. Dense shade can limit flowering potential even though the plants will survive in low light. Camellias prefer well-drained, organic soil and regular water until established. Established camellias are amazingly resilient to drought. Longleaf Botanical Gardens will soon offer a variety of camellia species and hybrids through the LBG plant sales. Visit, browse, and support the gardens!