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CAMELLIA reticulata 'Dora Lee'

Image of Camellia reticulata 'Dora Lee'

James Burghardt



Botanical Name

CAMELLIA reticulata 'Dora Lee'

Plant Common Name

Dora Lee Camellia, To-tsubaki, Yunnan Camellia

General Description

The huge, semi-double, bright-pink blooms of 'Dora Lee' open toward the end of the camellia season. It originated in 1983 at Gene's Nursery in Savannah, Georgia, from a cross between the Camellia reticulata hybrids 'Valley Knudsen' and 'Jean Pursel'.

This large, upright, rapidly growing shrub has ascending, gray-barked branches and leathery, oval, dark-green leaves with finely toothed margins. Each flower has numerous large, slightly wavy petals with a few smaller "petaloids" at its center. The petaloids are intermixed with clusters of white stamens with yellow anthers. Emerging blooms may be funnel-shaped before opening wide. In frost-free conditions, 'Dora Lee' flowers from late winter into spring. 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.


  • 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

    8'-18' / 2.4m - 5.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Hybrid Origin

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type


  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Red, Pink

  • 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


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

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

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing