Some gardeners may worry that camellia roots are invasive and take over the garden or damage building foundations. In my experience, when planting camellias, I always consider their mature size and root spread to ensure they have enough space to thrive without interfering with other plants or structures. With proper care and placement, camellias can be a non-invasive and stunning addition to a garden or landscape.
What Are Invasive Plants?
Invasive plants are introduced non-native species that rapidly get out of control. Invasive plants threaten native species and can disrupt established ecosystems. This can cause extreme problems not just for other plants but for animals and humans as well.
Each state maintains a list of invasive species. When introducing a new plant into your garden, always check if it’s listed as an invasive species in your state.
Are Camellias Classed as Invasive Plants?
Even though they are non-native, camellia plants aren’t considered invasive. Camellias are native to Asia but grow well in USDA Zones 7 to 10. Camellia shrubs don’t spread very quickly and can take several years to mature.
Are Camellia Roots Invasive?
Although they produce many strong, thick roots, camellia shrubs don’t have invasive roots. However, it’s a good idea to plant your camellia approximately six feet away from anywhere you don’t want the roots to spread.
As a general rule of thumb, camellia root systems have the same width as the foliage. So, a camellia shrub that’s five feet wide has a root system that’s also five feet wide. Keep this in mind when deciding where you want to plant your camellia shrub.
Because camellias don’t have invasive roots, they shouldn’t cause problems for your house foundations. Although camellias have thick roots, the roots aren’t strong enough to exploit gaps in foundations or walls.
Although camellia roots aren’t invasive, keeping your shrubs away from water or gas pipes is best. This eliminates the risk of any mishaps as the roots spread.
How Do Camellia Roots Spread?
Camellia shrubs produce dense mats of shallow surface roots. Camellias also produce some deeper roots that seek out water within the soil. A camellia’s root system usually matches the width of the shrub’s foliage. Most camellia species can grow between six and ten feet wide.
Although camellias produce dense layers of roots, the roots aren’t invasive. Even if your camellia’s roots do start causing problems, you can quickly get them back under control. Camellia roots shouldn’t undermine walls or foundations but may damage pipes, so keep that in mind.
How to Keep Camellia Roots In Check
Although camellia roots don’t spread quickly, you can keep them in check if necessary. The easiest way to keep camellia roots in check is to prune your shrub when necessary. Camellia roots only grow as wide as the broadest part of the foliage. By reducing the width of your shrub, you can reduce the spread of the root system.
I find that camellias grow reasonably slowly and shouldn’t be pruned too often. The best time to prune camellias is after the flowers have finished. This usually occurs in late spring.
Growing camellias in pots naturally restrict the size of the root system. However, choose containers at least 12 inches wide to provide enough growing space. Your camellia should be pretty happy in this pot for two to three years. Growing camellias in pots also help you protect them during winters in colder zones.
Camellia Plant Invasive Roots FAQs
Do Camellias Have a Big Root System?
Camellias have shallow root systems that spread as wide as the widest part of the foliage. Pruning the foliage helps limit the size of the root system.
How Close to a House Can You Plant a Camellia Tree?
Camellia roots shouldn’t undermine foundations, so you can plant camellias approximately four to six feet away from your house.
How Far From a Fence Should You Grow a Camellia?
Camellia roots shouldn’t damage fences, so you can plant your shrub approximately 12 inches away from a fence.
Camellia roots aren’t invasive and only spread as wide as the width of the foliage. As such, camellia roots won’t undermine foundations or walls. You can limit the size of your camellia root system by pruning the plant or growing it in a container.
Further reading: Discover the camellia flowering season.