CAMELLIA japonica 'Charlie Bettes'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Charlie Bettes Camellia, Japanese Camellia
This early-blooming camellia produces large gardenia-like flowers from late fall to midwinter. Originating as an unnamed seedling, it was discovered and selected by Charles Bettes of Jacksonville, Florida in the late 1950s.
This vigorous selection is a large shrub with a rounded habit and ascending, gray-barked branches and oval, glossy, dark-green leaves with serrated edges. Each bloom contains more than 50 pure white petals surrounding a central ruff of smaller "petaloids," which are interspersed with bundles of yellow stamens. This cultivar received the American Camellia Society's John Illges Medal in 1971.
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.