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.
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 soil mix that contains 80% finely ground aged pine bark, 10% builders sand and 10% peat moss. If ground pinebark is not available in your area, you can substitute something similar. For example, you may not have access to pine bark, perhaps some other type of aged bark could be substituted such as Fir bark. As long as it is ground into pieces 3/4” to 1/2” or less.
Garden centers may have bagged ground aged bark and may call it soil conditioner – check the ingredients to be sure. Nurseries in your area may have the bark, sand and peat soil – check with a local nursery in your area.
Fertilizing Camellia in Containers
Your camellias in containers will benefit from regular fertilizing. We suggest using a liquid fertilizer for containers like Miracle Grow Miracid™ or a natural fertilizer like HollyTone™ . Both of these are formulated for acid loving plants like Camellias. Liquid feeding will need to be done on a 7-10 day basis to be effective. HollyTone™ can be used about every 6 weeks during the growing season. Avoid granular and timed release on plants in containers.
Repotting Containerized Camellia
Camellias grown in containers will do very well for many years. You may at some point have the need to repot 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 repot the plant back into the same container, you can trim the roots back somewhat and then repot again. The roots will generate and your plant will be healthier for it.
Use Miracle Grow Quick Start™ on all of your repotted camellias! It’s a great product.
BEST Camellia Soil Recipe
80% Finely Ground Aged bark (pine, fir, cedar) (1/4 inch pieces) Sometimes sold as Soil Conditioner.
10% Builders sand (a little more coarse than play sand)
10% Peat moss
Top dress with Milorganite and Hollytone
Alternative Potting Soil Recipe
5 Parts Miracle Grow Garden Soil For Shrubs & Trees (not Bedding or Vegetables)
2-3 Part Perlite
No need for peat moss as the soil is already high in organic matter
(This may contain fertilizer so be careful of what you add)