Hardy Camellias in Toronto

(Question)

Hi,

Where I can buy hardy camellias (e.g. Zone 6 or 7) in Ontario? I’d like to grow them in Toronto. I have a coldframe to overwinter them.

Thanks,
Rocky

 

(Answer)

For decades horticulturists in the North have tried growing southern camellias -often unsuccessfully. The discovery of C.oleifera along with an extensive breeding program that was established at the U.S. National Arboretum in the late 1970′s incorporated the cold hardiness of C.oleifera¬†with the elegant flowers of the most widely standard varieties resulting in a range of both Spring and Fall flowering varieites.

There are some basic principles for growing camellias in cold climates:

  • Plant camellias in the Spring rather than in the Fall. Spring planting gives the plants a full growing season before the onset of winter.
  • Avoid early morning winter sun which can cause leaf burn
  • Mulch with pine needles or pine bark to a depth of 3-4″
  • Camellias prefer slightly acidic well drained soil similar to azaleas or rhododendrons.
  • Do not plant camellias too deep. The top of the media in the container should be level, or slightly above the surrounding ground.

The book Beyond the Camellia Belt by Dr. William Ackerman gives advice on succeding with camellias in colder climates. Contacting The International Camellia Society,http://camellia-ics.org/_ics/home~.htm#trailer, might be able to provide you with information on Canadian suppliers.