CAMELLIA japonica 'April Melody'
Plant Common Name
April Melody Camellia, Camellia, Japanese Camellia
Developed by Dr. Clifford Parks in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 'April Melody' is among the more cold hardy cultivars of the common camellia. Its small flowers are single and red with a hint of rose and bloom for a very long season, sometimes into early spring. Unlike other Japanese camellia selections, the central core of stamens is reddish, not golden yellow. The oldest flowers drop off and litter the ground. Introduced in 2008, this broadleaf evergreen shrub develops an upright but compact habit.
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.