If you live in Alabama or are just a fan of state facts, you may already know that the camellia is Alabama’s state flower. However, have you ever thought about how this came to be? Join us as we dive into the relationship between the camellia and this Southern state.
When Did the Camellia Become Alabama’s State Flower?
Governor John Patterson declared the camellia the official flower of Alabama on August 26, 1959. However, it wasn’t the state’s first state flower!
Before the camellia took this title, the goldenrod was considered Alabama’s state flower. That’s because the yellow plant bloomed throughout the state in forest clearings, meadows, and fields.
However, the goldenrod’s ubiquitous nature also led to its fall from state flower. Some people (including Patteron’s wife) considered the yellow flower a weed and thought something a bit more dignified and refined should hold the title of Alabama state flower.
Many people who disliked the goldenrod also loved the camellia. Some of the biggest supporters of the camellia were the residents of Butler County, including the governor’s wife.
While the camellia first appeared in Alabama in the gardens of the wealthy, it soon grew into quite a popular flower. By the time it was declared the state flower, it was beloved by many people in the state.
Although the camellia was first declared Alabama’s state flower in 1959, one more change took place in 1999.
Since many camellia species exist, some people thought a single species should be declared the state flower. So state lawmakers declared Camellia japonica the state flower in 1999.
Is the Camellia Native to Alabama?
Although Camellia japonica is Alabama’s state flower, it’s not native to the state. In fact, it’s native to an entirely different continent!
Camellia japonica, and most other camellias, are native to East and South Asia. This includes the countries Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia.
Although camellias are not native to Alabama, they made their way to the state in the 1800s. Since these plants thrived in the Alabama climate, they quickly became popular garden flowers.
People were especially fond of the plant’s ability to add color to the garden when few other flowers were blooming.
Why Did the Camellia Become Alabama’s State Flower?
As we mentioned above, the camellia isn’t native to Alabama. However, it is widely planted and loved throughout the state.
You can spot this flowering shrub throughout the state in places ranging from large and manicured gardens to simple front-yard plantings. No matter who you are, it’s easy to appreciate the plants’ beautiful and delicate flowers.
How to Care for Camellias in Alabama
Since this plant is Alabama’s state flower, you may wish to grow one of them in your Alabama garden. And the good news is that this is pretty easy to do!
Before you plant a camellia, you should select a proper site for planting. These plants prefer partial or full shade rather than full sun. Some suitable locations include underneath shade trees or in the shade of a building.
Once you’ve found a shady spot, inspect the soil. If it appears poorly draining or compacted, loosen the soil with a digging fork and mix in a few handfuls of finished compost or peat moss.
After you plant the camellias, try your best to keep the soil moist but not wet. As long as the soil is well-draining, you should plan on watering camellias about one to three times a week and fertilizing them monthly throughout the flowering season.
Camellias and Alabama FAQs:
Do Camellias Grow in Alabama?
Although camellias aren’t native to Alabama, they can thrive in this Southern state. Make sure to plant them somewhere that receives at least partial shade and keep the soil moist.
Was the Camellia Alabama’s First State Flower?
Goldenrod was Alabama’s state flower before the camellia. The camellia wasn’t declared the state flower until 1959.
What Is Alabama’s State Tree?
The southern longleaf pine is the official tree of Alabama. The tree is native to the state and once covered much of its area.
When Do Camellias Bloom in Alabama?
Camellias can bloom anytime from late fall to early spring in Alabama. The exact flowering time mainly depends on the variety, but the environment and weather can also impact bloom time.
What Species of Camellia Is Alabama’s State Flower?
The camellia was declared Alabama’s state flower in 1959. In 1999, legislators got more specific and declared Camellia japonica the state flower.
Although the camellia isn’t native to Alabama, its presence throughout the state made it the state flower.
For more, see our in-depth guide on the meaning and symbolism of camellias and discover our favorite types of red, yellow, white, and pink camellia flowers.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.
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