Camellias are lovely evergreen shrubs known for their fabulous flowers and glossy green leaves. Camellias don’t just make good ornamental shrubs. These plants from the tea family (Theaceae) can also be grown as hedges. In this article, we’ll explore which camellia varieties are best for hedges.
Do Camellias Make Good Hedges?
Camellias are slow-growing evergreen shrubs that can live for centuries in the right conditions. As such, camellias make excellent hedging plants. Once your hedge has reached a decent height, it makes a fantastic privacy screen for your garden.
Camellia hedges are also magnificent once they’re in flower. Exactly when your camellia hedge will bloom depends on the variety you use. Early-season camellias bloom in the fall, mid-season camellias flower during the winter, and late-season camellias bloom in the spring.
Camellia plants can be crafted into hedges with minimal effort, making them ideal for beginners.
Which Camellias Are Best for Hedges?
In my experience, Japanese camellias (Camellia japonica) and sasanqua camellias (Camellia sasanqua) are great for growing as hedges. Both species are pretty common in gardens.
Japanese camellias are taller but grow more slowly than Sasanqua camellias. Camellia japonica hedges reach over 12 feet tall, while Camellia sasanqua hedges grow up to approximately 10 feet tall.
Sasanqua camellias are early-season camellias that prefer full sun. Japanese camellias are mid-season camellias that grow better in partial shade. Camellia sasanqua prefers USDA Zones 7 to 9, while Camellia japonica is hardy in Zones 6 to 10.
Whichever type of camellia you use for your hedge, you can choose from several cultivars. Each cultivar produces flowers with different flowers or forms, so there’s bound to be one that matches your garden.
Some of the most beautiful Camellia japonica varieties for hedges include:
- Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’
- Camellia japonica ‘Nuccio’s Gem’
- Camellia japonica ‘Spring’s Promise’
Some of the best Camellia sasanqua cultivars to grow as hedges include:
- Camellia sasanqua ‘Paradise Jennifer’
- Camellia sasanqua ‘Plantation Pink’
- Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
How to Grow and Train a Camellia Hedge
Initially, growing a camellia hedge is the same as growing any type of camellia shrub. Camellias need fertile, acidic soil that holds moisture but is still well-draining. The soil pH should be somewhere between 5.0 and 6.5. If your current soil isn’t suitable, amend it by adding some ericaceous compost to increase acidity and add nutrients.
Normally, camellias need a sheltered location protected from cold or strong winds. This is also true for camellia hedges wherever possible. Remember that Camellia sasanqua varieties prefer full sun while Camellia japonica cultivars prefer partial shade. Many camellias can also tolerate full shade.
Water camellias regularly for the first 18 months while they establish themselves. After that, your camellia hedge shouldn’t need watering too often. You’ll have to water more frequently in hot weather as camellias don’t like drying out.
When planting camellias for a hedge, give each plant approximately 3 feet of space on either side. This promotes good air circulation while the hedge grows together. Plant your camellias in fall in warm climates or in spring if you live in a cooler climate.
Pruning is crucial to crafting a beautiful camellia hedge. Early on, prune your camellia regularly to encourage more buds to form branches. After you cut back a branch, two more should develop from it.
Once your camellia hedge has reached the desired height and size, scale back the pruning. Prune established hedges once a year, right after they finished flowering. I recommend not pruning or shaping hedges during summer or fall. Otherwise, you’ll end up removing the developing flower buds because camellias bloom on new growth.
Camellia Hedges FAQs:
How Fast Do Camellia Hedges Grow?
Camellia hedges grow fairly slowly. Even the faster-growing Camellia sasanqua only adds about 12 inches of height each year. However, camellia hedges can last for decades.
How Long Do Camellias Take to Grow to Full Height?
Camellias are slow-growing evergreen shrubs that take decades to reach their full height. Some camellia varieties can take a century to reach up to 25 feet tall.
Do Camellia Roots Go Deep?
Most of a camellia’s root system develops into a dense mat close to the soil’s surface. However, camellias send down a few deeper roots to access water underground.
Camellias make outstanding flowering evergreen hedges for any garden. Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua cultivars are the best choices for hedges. Japanese camellias grow taller than sasanqua camellias but also grow more slowly.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.