James H. Schutte
CAMELLIA x williamsii 'Charlean'
Plant Common Name
Charlean Camellia, William's Camellia
The large, pink, orchid-suffused blooms of 'Charlean' appear midway to late in the camellia season. Originating as a seedling of Camellia × williamsii 'Donation', this vigorous, hardy cultivar was bred and selected by William Stewart of Savannah, Georgia, in about 1950. Camellia japonica 'Donckelaeri' – a parent of 'Donation' – was the pollen parent.
Camellia × williamsii is the hybrid between the East Asian natives Camellia japonica and Camellia saluenensis. It was first raised by J. C. Williams of Caerhays Castle in Cornwall in the early 1920s.
A faster grower than most other Camellia × williamsii cultivars, 'Charlean' forms an upright to spreading, medium to large shrub with leathery, oval, light-green leaves. The large semi-double blooms are borne from winter into spring in frost-free sites (bloom may occur later in colder locations). Each blossom contains about 30 petals, intermixed with bundles of pink stamens with yellow anthers.
Camellia × williamsii cultivars excel in partial shade, but established, regularly watered specimens will tolerate full sun. Evenly moist, acid soil with ample drainage is essential. Camellias are notoriously slow-growing, slow to establish and shallow rooted. A thick layer of organic mulch will protect the roots and help maintain even moisture. Regular irrigation and applications of fertilizer will help promote good growth and flowering. Prune lightly (if necessary) after flowering, just before growth starts in the spring. Most camellias do not recover well from harsh renewal pruning.
Though hardier than many garden camellias,Camellia × williamsii cultivars are still quite tender. Their evergreen leaves and tender flower buds may suffer from sunscald and wind desiccation in winter, so avoid planting them in highly exposed areas. Often employed as specimen plants, they also work well in hedges, foundation plantings, and mixed borders.