Camellias have over 400 named and recognized varieties, with five species and 29 varieties grown as garden ornamentals. Camellias have four fragrant hybrid varieties that include Cinnamon Cindy, Fragrant Pink, High Fragrance and Sweet Emily Kate. Camellias have a variety of flower colors, sizes and forms. Flowers range in color from crimson to bright white. Blooms have six forms, including single, semi-double, anemone, peony and formal double.
Camellias are native to southeast Asia in warm temperate and subtropical climates at elevations from sea level to 3,200 feet. Camellias grow to the size of small trees at the midcanopy height in dense woodlands. Most species are native to China, and people in that region use extracts from Camellia leaves for tea.
Camellias grow best in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. Plants in alkaline soil turn yellow because of the lack of iron, manganese and zinc. It is best to plant Camellias between November and February so that the roots are established before summer heat. Camellias do not tolerate being planted too deeply, so the root ball should be one to two inches above the planting hole to allow for settling. Camellias need one inch of water every two weeks, and one inch of water every week during flowering.