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Camellias in Pennsylvania? Or just a 'Southern thing'?

Tenderheart
January 16, 2005

I just saw the prettiest photo of the Camellia "Pink Perfection" over at the Cottage Gardens forum. Does this one grow at all in PA, or do any Camellias do well in PA? I know nothing about this flower, but wow, that photo more than made me curious! 'So pretty. :) Thanks for any help.

Comments (13)

  • forrestal

    I would contact the folks at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia who have a great camellia collection and get some advice and suggestions. They are very knowledgeable on camellias, doing some cutting edge stuff. I think if you have a room like a sun porch where it can get some indoor humidity during the cold winter, and you don't mind carting it back and forth in a container, you can do it. Or a greenhouse. But otherwise, that variety 'Pink Perfection' may not be hardy enough for outside planting in that climate, depending on exactly where in PA you are. There are some who even grow them as 'house plants' in the colder climates, and the ACS has published some articles on that subject. You may also try some of the cold hardy varieties and see if you have any luck. I tip my hat to you for wanting to try. Nothing ventured, ... !

  • jenny_in_se_pa

    LOL yeah, I saw that flower picture. Very formal looking. ;-) You can get peonies that do the same!

    I don't know about where you are in PA but there's a decades old spring blooming camellia in my sister's yard in Delaware County, PA (Longwood Gardens is also in Delaware County):

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    {{gwi:503921}}

    It's not as formal as the Pink Perfection flower, but is still quite pretty and stunning (and cold hardy...lol). We have no idea what cultivar it is but the closest that makes some sense was the "Ice Follies ICE Angels®" (Camellia williamsii x oleifera 'Ice Follies') or perhaps an early sport of it. The previous owner of the house, who was the original owner (and had died long before the house was sold by his grandson), was supposedly a horticulturalist and had alot of interesting plants in the yard. Judging by the size, this has been there a long time, was planted in a south-facing location, and before my sister and her DH put up the fence (the fence is 6ft so you can see how tall this is), it was about 6ft - 8ft out from the neighbor's garage seen in the pic. There were 2 massive holly trees along the back that my sister removed, that had provided it shade from the western sun, although some other trees do remain there to block some of it.

    I have a baby C. sasanqua 'Cleopatra' in a container inside. I want to get a C. sinensis 'Rosea' this year too.

    'Pink Perfection' is a spring-blooming C. japonica IIRC, and in the northern areas, it's recommended to go with the fall-blooming C. sasanqua, as C. japonica buds might get fried in cold winters if not protected. However, anything that is crossed with the very cold-hardy C. oleifera (which I believe my sister's tree has a one of its parents), could give options for both fall and spring-blooming cammies.

    Look for Ackerman hybrids in either case, although I really don't know if any of those would do well planted in the ground in a Zone 5. As it is, these plants are marginal in 6 and 7.

    I included a link below to a little article written by Ackerman from the Intertnational Camellia Society, regarding some of his work with cold-hardy camellias and some that are recommended for colder areas. Reading the article, it makes me wonder if the "test sites" that he mentions in PA included the house where my sister lives because certainly no one in the neighborhood (and there are still many original home owners there from the '50s who are now in their 80s) even knew what the heck that was (and neither did we) and always wondered! LOL

    Here is a link that might be useful: Hardy Camellias - Ackerman

  • Tenderheart

    Forrest and Jenny, thank you so much. :) I'll look into all the great info you've provided here. And Jenny, I'm in northwestern PA, so the temps. differ a bit from the southeastern part of the state, but still, I'll look into all the info and see what I come up with. 'Pretty photos, by the way. :) Thank you both.

  • jenny_in_se_pa

    No problem! Looks like these plants are addictive! LOL

    Good luck! I container grow all my plants being in an apartment, but one with a balcony and it's not impossible to have trees and shrubs growing and blooming in containers for your enjoyment!

  • steve_nj

    I have around 25 different Camellias outdoors, but that is zone 7. You're much colder than the Delaware Valley. Camellia oleifera(Tea Oil Camellia) may be hardy for you in a sheltered spot.

  • carolroses

    I have 4 of Ackerman's camellias. One has survived 4 winters, one 2, and 2 just one. But I haven't lost one yet. They lose some leaves, but come back. Heck, even the tornado just snapped a couple of branches. You can grow these, facing west. They don't like morning sun. Email me if you want, but I can't recommend them enough.

  • Tenderheart

    Thank you both. :) I'll look into these.

  • Allegheny_Tom

    Hi All,
    I'm new to this website. I also live in NW Pennsylvania. Actually in Erie. I'm going to start some Camellia sinensis plants for transplanting next spring. I got 10 seeds through eBay. I'm hoping that the Lake Erie moderated weather will be beneficial for this plant.
    Does anyone have any advice for me?
    I've been an organic gardener for over 30 years but I'm starting my Camellia sinensis growing experience with no knowledge of this plant. I will apprecieate any advice or links that you can supply me. Thanks
    Tom W.

  • camellianut

    I have been growing a dozen different camellias in Chester, PA and there are Decades old ones around here.

  • growingplaces

    I saw some GORGEOUS photos of Camellias and I wondered if they could be grown in NW PA, just west of Erie. I wonder Tom W, how your seeds fared as your email is now 10 years old. Thanks, val

  • steve_nj

    I have over a hundred camellias in the ground, but I'm in zone 7. Depends upon your minimum temps, wind, and depth of ground frost. Camellia oleifera is the hardiest and blooms in fall. A few of the hybrids between C. oleifera & C. sasanqua are nearly as hardy and bloom in fall or early winter. Camellia Forest Nursery has these and some C. japonica that have above-average cold-tolerance. I don't think any will survive much below 5 to 10 below zero without careful siting, heavy mulch, and wrapping in layers of blankets & plastic.

  • growingplaces

    In NW PA we get temps of zero and below off and on throughout the deepest, darkest days of winter. I will ask our local nursery from where I purchase our annuals if they offer a super hardy variety. Such a lovely bloom Camellias have!! We had a butterfly bush a few years ago which we were told could survive ANY weather...it froze. Now we have 2 which have thrived for 4 years....despite 14 below temps 3 years ago. Sometimes I guess we just have to take the risk and hope for the best. Thanks for your time, Steve!

  • N. E. Barton

    Hi; My Mother had a Camellia japonica from the Sykes Estate in Delaware County, Pa. for many many years. I think that global warming is on your side on this one. Camellias can live in USDA zone 7b no problem, but in zone 7a you might have to give the Camellia some TLC. during the winter. I would grow the Camellia in a pot and bring it inside to live by a patio door until it reaches a gallon size pot. I would also plant it in the filtered sun, but on the southern side of the house, preferably next to the house (they make fabulous foundation plants). I would also bundle it up with frost cloth if it is young plant, or if there is a very cold winter storm. The Camellia japonica has a propensity to blast its buds if there's a late frost, but if you can throw some frost cloth over it, you will be rewarded with some lovely blossoms.

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