CAMELLIA japonica 'Aztec Warrior'
Plant Common Name
Aztec Warrior Camellia, Camellia, Japanese Camillia
Bright scarlet, ball-like flowers with curled petals appear on the 'Aztec Warrior' in late winter. Two different petal sizes make the semi-double flowers look plump and rounded. Once fully open, golden yellow stamens peek out among the petals. The oldest flowers drop off and litter the ground. This broadleaf evergreen shrub develops slowly, maintaining a rounded, upright habit when mature. Its leaves are a lighter green than those of most other Japanese camellias, too. Alec and Alice Horne of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, selected this in the mid-20th century from a chance seedling discovered in their garden.
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.