Our Plant Pick: Camellias
Camellias are a hardy evergreen shrub native to eastern and southern Asia. They have a long history of cultivation there, as the leaves of one species - Camellia sinensis - are harvested to produce tea. Ornamental varieties such as the Japanese (Camellia japonica) and Sun (Camellia sasanqua) are commonly found in the United States, although there is nothing common about the beauty and diversity offered by this flowering shrub.
Camellia flowers come in six forms: anemone, formal double, peony, rose-form double, semi-double and single. These flowers come in white, pink, red or a combination thereof resulting in dozens of unique varieties. Sacramento is the Camellia Capital of the World, if you walk around the grid this winter you may be graced by the sight of 15-foot-tall camellia shrubs in bloom, some of them over 100 years old.
Despite their delicate appearance, Camellias are actually very resilient. They thrive in our climate when planted in rich, acidic soil with afternoon shade. Starting in late summer, fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer such as E.B. Stone Ultra Bloom to encourage cold hardiness and maximum flowering. Clean up flowers that have fallen to reduce your risk of petal blight, a fungal disease which causes rust-colored spots on petals. After bloom, prune to shape and fertilize again with E.B. Stone Azalea & Camellia food.
Janet's plant pick is Camellias because:
"The sasanqua varieties start blooming in the fall, and then the japonicas go all the way through spring, keeping color in the garden all winter long."