CAMELLIA japonica 'Alba Plena'
Plant Common Name
Alba Plena Camellia, Camellia, Japanese Camillia
Regal in bloom with its plump, pure white flowers, 'Alba Plena' is one of the earliest known Japanese camellias selected in the West. Captain Connor, a ship captain overseeing transports from China to England, selected this plant in 1792 from cargo destined for Kew Gardens. The perfectly shaped snow white blooms are formal and fully double. This broadleaf evergreen shrub grows quite slowly but develops a bushy, rounded habit when mature.
Treasured in eastern Asia for centuries, camellias were brought to the western world by Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, for whom they are named. Their attractive smooth gray branches hold oval, glossy, toothed, dark green leaves. From late winter to early spring, this cultivar bears large, waxy flowers which are excellent for cutting.
Common camellia grows best in partial sun to partial shade but will tolerate full sun once established, though sunscald may be a problem. The soil must be evenly moist, acid and well-drained. This plant is notoriously slow-growing, slow to establish and shallow rooted. A thick layer of organic mulch will protect the roots and facilitate better growth. Regular irrigation and applications of fertilizer promote good growth and flowering, though plants will tolerate periods of drought.
The evergreen leaves and tender flower buds may suffer from sunscald and wind desiccation in winter, so avoid planting camellia in windy, exposed areas. If needed, prune branch tips immediately after flowering, just before new growth starts in the spring. Selective, infrequent light pruning and shaping is recommended but shearing is not. This camellia does not recover well from harsh pruning practices. In the landscape, it may be used in hedges, shady foundation beds, mixed borders or as a woodland specimen plant.