From Blush to Burgundy: The Colorful World of Camellia Flowers

Camellias are gorgeous evergreen shrubs that are a welcome sight in the fall and winter. These long-lived plants bring beautiful colors to the garden when little else is in bloom. Camellia flowers come in several colors and interesting forms. In this article, we’ll discover what colors camellia flowers come in.

Camellia Flower Colors_ A Visual Tour of Their Beautiful Shades and Hues

Camellia Flower Colors – The Essentials

Camellia flowers come in three main colors; pink, red, and white. These flowers also come in yellow, but these varieties are pretty rare. Camellia flowers represent adoration. Pink camellias symbolize longing, while white camellias represent adoration. Red camellias symbolize desire and passion.

The Four Primary Camellia Flower Colors: 

Pink Camellias

Pink Camellias

Pink camellia flowers are one of the most popular colors for camellias and come in several shades. Like many pink flowers, pink camellias symbolize both romantic and platonic love. Pink camellias are also used to express longing for a dearly missed loved one. Pink camellias may also represent qualities like gratitude and playfulness.

Some of the most popular pink camellia cultivars include:

  • Camellia sasanqua ‘Plantation Pink’ – This beautiful early-season camellia has large, blousy single or semi-double flowers. Each flower displays a cluster of yellow stamens in the center and gives off a sweet fragrance.
  • Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’ – This gorgeous Camellia japonica cultivar produces pale pink informal double blooms in the spring. Each flower grows up to 3 inches wide.
  • Camellia Japonica ‘Pink Perfection’ – This spectacular camellia was popular in Victorian times thanks to its stunning pale pink formal double flowers. This mid to late-season variety blooms from January until May.

Red Camellias

Red Camellias

Red camellia flowers provide rich shades of color along with intricate meaning. In the language of flowers, they are associated with passion, desire, and romantic love. Late winter mid-season cultivars are a perfect Valentine’s Day alternative to roses.

Here are some of the most celebrated red camellia varieties:

  • Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ – This spectacular early to mid-season camellia produces single red flowers with bright yellow stamens. ‘Yuletide’ is usually in flower around Christmas, making it a wonderfully festive flower.
  • Camellia japonica ‘Black Magic’ – Despite the name, this camellia has gorgeous red semi-double or rose-form flowers. ‘Black Magic’ is a fantastic mid to late-season camellia variety.
  • Camellia japonica ‘Royal Velvet’ – Few camellia cultivars are as bright or as captivating as ‘Royal Velvet’. This mid-season camellia produces intense red semi-double blooms with yellow stamens.

White Camellias

White Camellias

White camellia flowers produce elegant displays with wonderful symbolism. They symbolize platonic affection and adoration rather than romantic interest. Like other white flowers, white camellias may also symbolize innocence, purity, and rebirth. Camellia varieties used in tea production exclusively have white flowers.

Popular white camellia varieties include:

  • Camellia japonica ‘Silver Waves’ – This elegant mid-season variety dazzles with large silvery-white semi-double flowers with golden yellow centers. ‘Silver Waves’ is also a good choice for a camellia hedge.
  • Camellia sasanqua ‘Mine-no-yuki’ – This stunning early-season camellia has wonderful semi-double pure white flowers. This variety is also extremely prolific, producing up to 150 flowers on one shrub in some cases.
  • Camellia japonica ‘White Empress’ – This Camellia japonica variety produces large double or semi-double white flowers with fluted petals. Compared to many camellias, this mid-season cultivar grows fairly quickly.

Yellow Camellias

Yellow Camellias

Yellow camellia flowers are extremely rare, confined to just a few species and cultivars. Like other yellow flowers, yellow camellias can symbolize hope, joy, and abundance. In Chinese culture, yellow flowers represent things that are sacred.

Here are a couple of yellow camellia varieties:

  • Camellia x williamsii ‘Jury’s Yellow’ – While not strictly a yellow camellia, ‘Jury’s Yellow’ has white anemone-form flowers with yellow central petals. This is a late-season cultivar that blooms from March until April.
  • Camellia chrysantha – This rare camellia species grows in parts of China and Vietnam. It produces gorgeous single yellow flowers with golden yellow stamens. It’s a mid to late-season variety that blooms from November until March.

About Camellia Flowers

About Camellia Flowers

Family & Genus

The Camellia genus belongs to the tea family (Theaceae). Over 26,000 camellia cultivars have been bred over the years by horticulturalists. Most of these cultivars are derived from two species; Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua. Hybrid varieties such as Camellia x williamsii combine qualities from different camellia species.

Native Range & Habitat

Camellias are native to eastern and southern parts of Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia. Camellia shrubs thrive in tropical and subtropical habitats, including woodlands. Some camellias also grow on the slopes of the Himalayas.

Botanical Characteristics

Botanical Characteristics

Camellias are flowering evergreen shrubs that sometimes grow as small trees. In the wild, camellias grow up to 50 feet tall but take decades to reach their full size. In gardens, camellias grow between 6 and 15 feet tall and approximately 6 to 10 feet wide.

Camellias are long-lived shrubs that can live for centuries in the right conditions. Camellias have glossy green elliptical or oval-shaped leaves with slightly serrated edges.

Camellia shrubs come in three main categories depending on when they flower. Early-season camellias, like Camellia sasanqua cultivars, bloom during the fall. Mid-season camellias such as Camellia japonica flower during the winter. Late-season camellias, including many hybrid varieties, flower in the spring.

Camellia flowers come in six main forms that dictate the appearance and shape of the blooms. Here’s a quick guide to camellia flower forms:

  • Single – Open flowers with prominent stamens in the center
  • Semi-double – Partially open flowers with ruffled central petals
  • Anemone-form – Partially open flowers with petals that have notched edges
  • Peony-form – Also known as informal double flowers. Flowers with ruffled petals and hidden stamens
  • Rose-form – Blousy semi-double flowers with partially visible stamens
  • Formal double – Uniform rosette flowers with ranks of overlapping petals

Meaning & Symbolism

Meaning & Symbolism

Camellias produce beautiful flowers that also carry lots of meaning and symbolism. Camellias represent devotion and romantic love, making them a good Valentine’s Day alternative to roses. Camellia flowers with different colors also have different meanings, mostly related to adoration and platonic or romantic love.

Uses & Benefits

Camellias aren’t just wonderful ornamental shrubs for the garden. Camellia leaves are also used to produce tea. Camellia sinensis is the main variety used in tea production, making it one of the most valuable commercial crops in the world. The leaves are used to make black, green, white, and oolong tea.

Tea made from camellia leaves also has several potential health benefits. The leaves contain several compounds, such as caffeine and L-theanine. The latter has a relaxing effect as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Interesting Facts

Camellias have a long history of cultivation in Asian cultures, especially in China and Japan. Some of the oldest camellias in the world remain at the Japanese imperial palace. These venerable shrubs are several centuries old. The world’s oldest camellia was planted in the 1300s and still lives at the Panlong Monastery in China.

Care & Maintenance

Care & Maintenance

Camellias are slow-growing shrubs, with most species reaching approximately 6 to 15 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide. Most camellias take decades to reach their full size. Camellias grow best in warm, moist conditions but can be pretty cold-hardy.

Camellias are fairly low-maintenance shrubs as long as their needs are met. Above all, camellias need fertile, acidic soils that stay moist but are still well-draining. The soil pH should be between 5.0 and 6.5. Camellias grow well in pots when planted in ericaceous compost.

Most camellias thrive in partial shade, although some varieties can grow in full shade. Camellia sasanqua cultivars tolerate full sun once they’re established. All camellias need a sheltered spot that protects their flower buds from cold or strong winds (which can lead to yellowing or curling camellia leaves).

Water camellias when the top 2 to 4 inches of soil feel dry, especially during hot summers. Fertilize camellias once or twice a year in late spring once flowering finishes and again in midsummer. If required, prune camellia shrubs after flowering finishes. 

For more, see our essential guide to troubleshooting camellia plants not blooming and the fastest-growing camellia flowers to plant in your garden.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Camellia Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Camellia Flowers

Camellias are strongly associated with both romantic and platonic love. This means that camellias are a great gift for several occasions. Camellias are excellent birthday gifts for friends, family members, spouses, or romantic partners.

Red or pink camellias, especially mid-season varieties, make good Valentine’s Day alternatives to roses. Red camellias are ideal gifts for your spouse or partner because these flowers are associated with passion and romantic love. Pink camellias symbolize platonic love and longing, making them ideal for friends or family that you haven’t seen for a while.

Camellia Flower Colors FAQs:

Are There Blue Camellias?

Blue camellias don’t exist, as camellias come only in shades of pink, red, white, or yellow.

What Month Do Camellias Flower?

Depending on the variety, camellias flower anytime from October until May. Early-season camellias flower in the fall, mid-season camellias bloom in winter, and late-season camellias flower in spring.

Do Camellias Flower Twice a Year?

Camellias only flower once a year and take months to develop next year’s flower buds on new growth. Camellias flower between fall and late spring, depending on the variety.

Wrapping Up

Camellia flowers come in various shades of pink, red, white, and yellow. Pink camellias represent longing and platonic love, while red camellias symbolize passion and romantic love. White camellias symbolize affection and adoration rather than romantic interest. Yellow camellias are rare and represent joy, hope, and abundance.

For more, see our in-depth guide on the meaning and symbolism of camellias, growing Camellia flowers in California, and discover our favorite types of red, white, and pink camellia flowers.

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