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CAMELLIA reticulata

Image of Camellia reticulata

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Theaceae

Botanical Name

CAMELLIA reticulata

Plant Common Name

To-tsubaki, Yunnan Camellia

General Description

A large, winter-blooming, evergreen shrub (or small tree) from south-central China, Camellia reticulata has long been admired and cultivated for its profusion of large, single, rose-pink flowers. This relatively hardy camellia is native to upland forests in western Guizhou, southwestern Sichuan, and Yunnan.

This rather slow-growing, dense, upright shrub has upright, gray-barked branches and leathery, oval, dark-green leaves with paler undersides. The leaves have netted veins and finely toothed margins. Funnel-shaped when new, the five- to seven-petaled blooms are broad and saucer-shaped when fully expanded. They are followed by globular seed capsules that ripen brown in fall.

C. reticulata 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 recent cultivars attributed to C. reticulata are interspecific hybrids. C. reticulata cultivars and hybrids have been used in the development of numerous modern camellia hybrids.

Grow Yunnan camellia in partial shade and moist, humus-rich, non-alkaline soil. Shelter it 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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 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 Shade

  • Height

    10'-50' / 3.0m - 15.2m

  • Width

    8'-30' / 2.4m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Pink, Light Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • 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

    Single

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

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No