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CAMELLIA reticulata 'Big Dipper'

Image of Camellia reticulata 'Big Dipper'

James Burghardt

Family

Theaceae

Botanical Name

CAMELLIA reticulata 'Big Dipper'

Plant Common Name

Big Dipper Camellia, To-tsubaki, Yunnan Camellia

General Description

The huge, semi-double, carmine-pink blooms of 'Big Dipper' open in winter, early in the camellia season. This open-pollinated seedling of Camellia reticulata 'Dali Cha' was selected by Houghton Hall of San Anselmo, California.

This large, upright, rapidly growing shrub has ascending to spreading, gray-barked branches and leathery, oval, dark-green leaves with finely toothed margins. Each flower has about 19 large, undulating petals surrounding a central cluster of pale yellow stamens with golden anthers. Emerging blooms tend to be funnel-shaped before opening wide. In frost-free conditions, 'Big Dipper' flowers from early to late winter. Bloom may occur later in colder sites.

Camellia reticulata is a large evergreen shrub (or small tree) from upland forests in western Guizhou, southwestern Sichuan, and Yunnan. It is best known for its many cultivars, some of which have been grown in Yunnan since before the fifteenth century, typically in temple gardens. Most C. reticulata cultivars have huge double- or semi-double flowers, and are lankier, less cold-hardy, and more disease-prone than the wild type. Many cultivars attributed to C. reticulata are interspecific hybrids.

Grow Reticulata camellias in partial shade and moist, humus-rich, non-alkaline soil. Shelter them from harsh winter sun and winds, and apply mulch to keep the roots cool and moist. Regular irrigation and applications of fertilizer promote optimal growth and flowering. Prune lightly (if necessary) in early spring, before next year's flower buds form. C. reticulata cultivars are generally rangier and frailer than the wild type, requiring more protection and pruning to keep them in good condition. This Reticulata hybrid makes a beautiful specimen for mild-climate gardens and cool greenhouses.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Broadleaf Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Pink, Rose

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Semi-Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No