James H. Schutte
CAMELLIA japonica 'La Peppermint'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Japanese Camellia, La Peppermint Camellia
Treasured in eastern Asia for centuries, camellia was brought to the western world by Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, for whom it is named.
Japanese camellia is a large, broadleaf evergreen shrub to small tree that originates from eastern Asia. It has a compact, upright to spreading habit and attractive smooth gray branches that are furnished with oval, glossy, dark green leaves. From late winter to early spring, it bears large, waxy flowers which are excellent for cutting.
The cultivar ‘La Peppermint’ is bushy, dependable blooming with an upright habit and medium height. Small, double, rose-form, formal blooms which mean there are rows of overlapping petals and gold reproductive structures visible in the center are white to light pink generously striped with carmine. The flowers appear early to mid season, winter to spring.
Camellia prefers partial sun to partial shade but will tolerate full sun once established, though sunscald may be a problem. The soil should be 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. Prune after flowering, just before new growth starts in the spring. Selective, light pruning and shaping is recommended and shearing is not. Camellia do not recover well from harsh pruning practices.
The evergreen leaves and tender flower buds may suffer from sunscald and wind desiccation in winter, so avoid planting camellia in highly exposed areas. In the landscape, it may be used in hedges, foundations, mixed borders or as a specimen plant.