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CAMELLIA lutchuensis

Image of Camellia lutchuensis

Mark A. Miller

Family

Theaceae

Botanical Name

CAMELLIA lutchuensis

Plant Common Name

Camellia, Fragrant Camellia

General Description

Strong, delicious fragrance wafts from the numerous white flowers of Camellia lutchuensis from midwinter to early spring. It is sometimes ambiguously, but appropriately, dubbed the fragrant camellia because it is truly the most fragrant of them all. This evergreen shrub is native to the forests and thickets of southernmost China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan's Ryukyu Islands where winters are mild. Plant breeders prize this species for the development of fragrant Camellia hybrids, most notably breeders in Japan.

The fragrant camellia grows slowly with an upright, open, but spreading habit. Its dark green evergreen leaves have an elliptical shape, leathery texture and glossy sheen. The smooth branch stems are very pliable. From late midwinter to early spring, small to medium flowers occur all over the open, leafy branches . The typically white petals sometimes have a faint pink blush. Seed capsules filled with dark brown, round seeds follow pollination by insects.

Grow the fragrant camellia in partial sun to partial shade, with midday shade being most essential. Evenly moist, slightly acid soil with ample drainage is ideal. As with other camellias, this species is slow-growing, slow to establish and shallow rooted. Provide a thick layer of organic mulch to protect the roots. Regular irrigation and light applications of fertilizer promote good growth and flowering. Prune after flowering ceases, just before new growth starts in spring. This large, open-branched camellia is best incorporated into a mixed woodland border or planted as a specimen. It is amenable to being espaliered or grown as bonsai.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Broadleaf Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade

  • Height

    8'-15' / 2.4m - 4.6m

  • Width

    10'-12' / 3.0m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China, Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes