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Fall is a good time to plant camellias in the Pacific Northwest because the air is cooling but the soil is still warm, and roots easily become established during our winter rains. At other times, make sure that the plant remains watered.


In a suitable spot with acidic soil (good drainage, preferably part shade), dig a wok-shaped hole in undisturbed earth about one-half the depth of the root ball and about three times its diameter so that the root ball rests upon firm earth.

To fully moisten before planting, submerge the potted camellia into a bucket of water until no more bubbles rise to the surface. Gently wash away the outer soil from the root ball with a water hose and loosen and extend the roots to allow better penetration into the soil. Place it in the center of the hole on the undisturbed earth.

Separately, combine the removed earth with some well-rotted compost (leaf mold, cow manure, etc.). Do not use fresh bark dust.

Work this mixture around the sides and over the top of the root ball leaving a small moat to help retain water. Do not bury the top of the root ball more than one-inch or you risk cutting off the air supply the plant needs. Mulch lightly with wood chips, not bark dust, feathering it away from the camellia's trunk.

Firm in place and water well.

If your plant came from a commercial nursery, it probably has enough fertilizer for a year. If not, a couple of tablespoons of general time-release fertilizer should be ample.

Within a year or two, you will see the earth around the plant erode somewhat, exposing the top roots. Fear not, for by that time the plant will have cleverly grown new roots into the composted soil at exactly the appropriate height. Continue to add a light wood chip mulch. Too much mulch can effectively bury the uppermost roots, as noted above.

Keep the plant well-watered during the hot summer.

Visit the American Camellia Society website for more information on camellia care and culture.



The American Camellia Society website offers information on Propagation and Insects and Diseases.

In addition, following are videos on propagation by air layers and cuttings. The air layer videos were created in Georgia so specific products mentioned might not be available in the Pacific Northwest.

The cuttings video is basic but shows clearly the appearance of semi-hardwood just right for taking a cutting.

Always clean any pruning and cutting equipment with an alcohol and bleach solution when moving between each camellia for air layering or taking cuttings and preparing them.

Camellia Air Layering Part 1
Dudley-Do-Right, YouTube
Camellia Air Layering Part 2
Dudley-Do-Right, YouTube

How Do I Take Camellia Cuttings

gardenersguidance, YouTube

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