Most Camellias can be successfully grown in containers as long as you remember some guidelines! The most important thing to remember about a Camellia is that it will absolutely not tolerate wet soils or soils that do not drain properly. Make sure you pay close attention to the recommendations we have for potting soils.
Growing in Containers—tips
- Choose a container that is about twice as large as the root mass of your plant.
- AVOID containers that are too large or you could have uneven water and nutrient distribution which could lead to trouble with your plant. Keep plant roots near the top of the pot.
- Make sure your container has plenty of drain holes.
- Fill the bottom with larger pebbles or stones so that water can drain well to the bottom of the pot and out. Avoid clogging holes.
- Clay will pull more water out of the soil—so if you must use clay, pay close attention to your plants water needs.
- Don’t let your container sit in a saucer of water. Drain water off so that water will not be wicked back up into the pot.
Shishi Gashira in a brick planter.
Choose the correct potting soil for Camellias
The natural habitat for camellias are soils that are organic in nature and well drained. The biggest mistake people make with camellias is buying the bagged potting mixes that contain a lot of peat. A little peat is ok, but using soils that are comprised mostly of peat moss will cause excessive moisture in the soil and will lead to poor drainage which will suffocate the roots of your camellias. We do not recommend that you use the commercial bagged mixes unless you have used them with camellias before.
We use a camellia soil that is bark based and provides good drainage.
Fertilizing Camellia in Containers
Your camellias in containers will benefit from regular fertilizing. We suggest using an organic fertilizer like HollyTone™ . HollyTone™ can be used about every 6 weeks during the growing season. Avoid granular and timed release in containers because they can burn your plants. Timed release fertilizers release as the weather warms and in some cases they can actually dump excessive salts if you get a sudden spike in temperatures. Excessive salts in the containers can spell disaster if they are not flushed out and by the time you realize it, it can be too late for your plant. Organics are the best choice.
Re-potting Containerized Camellia
Camellias grown in containers will do very well for many years. You may at some point have the need to re-pot your plant. Choose a container a little larger than the one you’re growing in. It’s usually best to gradually step up plants on a regular basis instead of putting them in a container that is too large.
If you wish to re-pot the plant back into the same container, you can trim the roots back somewhat and then re-pot again. The roots will generate and your plant will be healthier for it.