April 30, 2014

My little Camellia experiment

Well, I did it.

cam bud

Earlier this spring, I ordered a Camellia from Camellia Forest Nursery.

I was so excited, I didn't stop to take pictures of the package and the unveiling of the plant ... like all good garden bloggers do. Instead, I simply ripped open the box!

And there inside was a sweet one-year-old plant in a little pot. Camellia japonica 'April Pink.' Soft pink, formal double flowers. Hardy to USDA zone 6B. Click here to see what the blooms will look like.

OK, I know what you're thinking: "Beth, you live in Wisconsin. Your winter lows can reach -20F (-29C), or occasionally colder. You have no business trying to grow a Camellia."

And, of course, you are right.

I posted about this crazy Camellia fetish of mine here.

Crazy and misinformed as this decision might seem, I did receive some coaching and encouragement from fellow garden bloggers and Camellia experts. Camellia Forest Nursery says gardeners as far north as Toronto, Ontario, successfully grow cold-hardy Camellias.

And one other thing: This Camellia will be inside during the coldest months of the winter. It will keep the Lemon tree company in the cool sunroom. Because this plant prefers part shade, it will be placed away from direct light, of course.

I don't know if this experiment will work, but I've been told that other people in cold climates grow Camellias in conservatories and partially heated rooms. So I just had to try it.

table

I found a new small pot and the perfect spot for this little Camellia during the spring, summer, and fall: on the back screen porch in a shaded corner that gets indirect light most of the day.

porch1

I'm showing this angle so you can see where it sits next to the house.

porch2

We close off this part of the porch and put clear acrylic panes over the screens from November through April, which helps to keep the temperature a little warmer and the winds a little less harsh.

stem buds

The Camellia seems to be doing well so far, and the buds are starting to swell. More new buds are developing along the stem.

What do you think? Am I crazy to try this?

By the way, the Lemon tree is blooming.

lemon1

It started blooming the day after Easter.

lemon2

I used a little brush to help pollinate the flowers because it's too cold to set the tree outside just yet for natural bee pollination. Looks like some Lemons are starting to form. This is fun!

48 comments:

  1. Not crazy at all . . . inspiring it will be to watch it bud and thrive!
    The porch corner looks like a perfect protect etched spot!

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    1. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess. ;-) I couldn't help myself. I simply have a thing for Camellias. I probably won't try planting them in Wisconsin soil, but it's fun to have a potted Camellia.

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  2. Go for it, has to be worth trying, and your camellia should thrive if you can keep it pest free. I am so envious of your lemon tree...

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! From what I hear the Meyer Lemons are easy to grow just about anywhere--as long as they don't freeze. You should try one!

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  3. Wow. I am seriously impressed. Camellias in Wisconsin, and lemons actually fruiting? You should get a medal. And you're in for a treat when that camellia blooms. One of my favorite flowers!

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    1. Ha! I don't know about a medal. A friend told me about the Meyer Lemon. She has one here in the same town and I'm basically copying her idea and good advice. Plus, the hubby wanted to try it, too. The Camellia is a personal favorite. I'm looking forward to the first blooms!

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  4. Replies
    1. I know. If it works for a few seasons, I'll be thrilled! It should survive just fine through the summer. We'll see if my technique will carry it through the winter...

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  5. I think it is wonderful that you are experimenting with this and it looks like you are succeeding!

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    1. Thanks, Karin. Time will tell, but it will be so fun during the time along the way. I'm reading more and more articles from northerners who successfully grow Camellias by using microclimates, winter wraps, and periods of indoor pampering. :)

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  6. Wow your lemon tree is already blooming, I am looking every moment to my lemon tree for buds, but so far no. I think when you can get lemon trees in flower than you will succeed with Camellias too and I know there are quite hardy camellias I have some in my garden too and especially after our mild winter they were gorgeous, you just have to be a bit lucky with the weather.

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    1. Thanks! I think the Lemon likes the spot where it's been sitting all winter. I'm a little worried about putting it outside, and I'm not sure what to do to keep the critters from digging in its soil. Any ideas? I think the Camellia will be OK because I'm planning to keep it on the porch, but the Lemon needs more sunlight. Maybe I'll put a grate over the soil to keep the pests out...

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  7. Good luck with your camellia. I'm sure it will do fine with the protection you will be giving it. Love the Lemon flowers, ours started to flower round the same time. Lets home we all get Lemons.

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    1. Thanks, Bridget. How fun that we're following a similar schedule with the Lemons! Yes, I hope we both eventually have nice harvests of fruit. :)

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  8. I think I already gave you major kudos for that gorgeous lemon tree, so know I 'll focus on the magnolia. I think it may have been you that 'reminded' me of magnolias when I was trying to plant a new shade garden and it has turned out brilliantly. Such a variety of the beauties. I say go for it! Your plant looks healthy and like it will grow just fine for you. We just moved out lemon out of doors and boy is it happy! 90 degrees today, yikes! This is so NOT Portland in early May--just a brief taste of summer.

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    1. Oh good--I'm glad the Magnolias are working well for you. I love them, too, but I don't have any here. We have a couple at church that are just beautiful and the peak of bloom right now. 90 degrees in Portland in May--wow! Yes, that does sound like perfect Lemon tree weather!

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  9. You're only crazy if you don't try. Your camellia looks mighty happy to me! Bravo! :o)

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! I figured it wasn't a huge investment. And since I have such a thing for Camellias, I wanted to give it a shot. I think it will be even happier when we remove the acrylic and let the cool summer breezes blow through the screens. :)

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  10. I'm impressed with your moxie!! With a little luck, I'm sure you'll have beautiful camellia blooms in no time :)

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    1. Thanks, Aaron. It's so fun to try these things. I'll be so excited to see the first bloom!

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  11. I've always envied Southern gardeners their camellias. You've given me hope, Beth! I'll be eager to see how your camellia continues to grow, though it certainly looks happy now. Congrats on the lemon tree blooms!

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    1. Thanks, Rose. I've always avoided having house plants in the sunroom because of the cats, but this year I realized I could move these plants outside in the spring/summer/fall, and then back in for the winter. We shut that room off during the winter, anyway, so it's perfect for this use. Kind of embarrassing that I've just figured it out now. ;-)

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  12. I have had Camellias when I lived in PA. Good luck with your plant, I hope it lives a long life. Love the lemon tree too. I had a very large one indoors in PA too until my dog had it for dinner one day. Nothing left of it but twigs and soil..

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I'm worried about that with the cats, too. But I'm only letting them in the room when I'm watching them. We've had houseplant damage from the cats in the past. So, being able to move them outside in the spring/summer/fall will make it easier. Sorry about your Lemon tree!

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  13. You are a bold and adventurous gardener. Christopher Lloyd would approve. Whatever happens, you and others will benefit from the experience.

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    1. Ha! Yes--a mad plant scientist! Mwa-ha-ha! Good point--we'll have pretty blossoms, wonderful scents, and hopefully some Lemons. And if all works well, this will happen for at least a few years. :)

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  14. Yep, a tiny bit crazy, but so what, that’s what we get results from – so welcome to the club! I am growing a canary palm and an oleander in my London garden – and a 2.8m magnolia in a container so yes, a bit crazy will do me fine and you too should wear that label as a badge :-)
    I am so happy for you that you finally got your camellia, and such lovely flowers it got! If you are lucky, that large bud will develop into a flower, the rest of them are probably next year’s flower buds. The flowers of your camellia reminds me of one I have on my (very long) wish list, Camellia 'Debutante', I hope to get this one in the autumn, that would complete my camellia collection. And how lovely your lemon tree look, I hope you get lots of fruit!

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    1. Thanks for welcoming me to the club, Helene. ;-) I will wear the badge with pride! I'm enamored of the Camellia and it hasn't even bloomed yet. It seems to like the cool weather we're having. Last week, when the temps dipped just below freezing I put it in the garage at night and brought it out during the day, and it seemed to thrive on that. This week, we aren't having any freezes, so it's staying in its little spot and is looking better every day. I researched 'Debutante' and it's a beauty!

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  15. Oh, the glory of anything with LIFE and fragrance! And these camellias are such a lovely sight to behold. Thank you for coming to visit my post; we are still dreaming over here about flowers and warmth, but we are getting there....slowly! Blessings, Anita

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    1. I agree about welcoming new life after the long, cold winter, Anita! And then at first I thought we were going to have a normal or an early spring...until we crashed back into cold, rainy weather. But no complaints because what is blooming is lasting a lonnnggg time. And the rain is so good for the plants. I'm just so thrilled to be done with the subzero and freezing weather!

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  16. You know that I am very excited that you took the camellia plunge.

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    1. Yes, Carolyn. ;-) Thank you for your encouragement. I'm very happy with the Camellia and look forward to the blooms. Thanks for the tip about Camellia Forest Nursery, too.

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  17. Of course you are not crazy - gardeners around the world successfully grow plants that are unsuitable for your climate with much success.
    Better to have tried and wished you had tried, right? Our temperatures here in Scotland don't get quite as low as yours do, so I'm sure by bringing it in during winter will be just what it needs. It's a very pretty one too. Good luck on your Camellia journey :)

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    1. Thanks, Angie. I think it just might work. I figured if the Lemon tree worked, I might as well try the Camellia. And it can stay out on the porch into early winter and go back out in early spring -- a little more time outside than the Lemon. Fun with plants. ;-)

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  18. I don't think you are a crazy camellia crunchy gardener...lol. At first when I looked at your temps, I thought, oh if she can do it, then so can I . We are similar zones...but I don't have the space to bring it inside...so it would be a true crunchy camelia in the winter. Good luck, and looking forward to seeing blossoms.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Ha! Yes, I guess the key in our type of climate is to have transition areas like porches or conservatories where the plants get a little taste of cooler weather without freezing. These experiments are fun!

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  19. Oh congratulations, you did very well and am sure very delighted with your accomplishment. I was so enticed too growing hoyas because i first learned that people even in Sweden and in the US with very cold winters can grow them. I felt embarassed with myself that i don't have it even if it is a tropical plant. If they can do it, more can I! So the rest, as they say, is history. As long as we know the plants' needs and we can supply them in whatever way, they will grow, and reward us.

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    1. Thanks! We both have our favorites, don't we? And we're both passionate about plants. It's wonderful to have gardening friends around the world so we can converse about plants! Enjoy the Hoyas! They're beautiful, too!

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  20. Soon you will be drinking lemonade as you watch your camellia grow! I do not think you are crazy at all. It is not unusual to see camellias grown inside conservatories here, even though they do perfectly well outside in our climate. I grow some tropical type plants that stay outside during the warmer months but then come inside for winter. No problem!

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    1. Tee hee. That sounds wonderful! I'm expecting mature, ripe Lemons by December. It would be nice to be able to give a few away as little gifts. :) Thanks for the vote of confidence. I need it!

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  21. Oh I wish I had a sunny spot inside to grow lemons...looks like that camelia is very happy...can't wait to see it bloom.

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    1. I can't wait to see the bloom either! It seems like a very happy, little plant in its little spot. I might just keep it in the porch, where it can get gentle summer breezes, but where the chipmunks and other critters can't get to it. The Lemon will go outside soon, so I have to think of some way to keep the critters out of the pot!

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  22. If you can grow a lemon tree in your house, you can grow anything. And no you are not crazy, sometimes gardeners can be too judge mental about how people should garden. Garden the way it pleases you, and experiment with plants, that's part of the fun and learning process. I am so glad your lemon tree is doing so well. Have a great week.

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    1. Wow, thanks Karen! I can't hold myself back from the plant experiments so I'm not going to try. ;-) With that said, I'm keeping these plants in pots so they can move in and out, and move with me when I leave this place.

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  23. Nooo, you're not crazy at all. In Connecticut I got camellias to bloom inside and outside. Never mind that the one I brought to Georgia died this past winter. Good luck; I'm betting on you.

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    1. Good to know, Lee! And thank you so much for your encouragement! It's interesting how we react to certain plants. I don't really have one favorite, but I have lots of favorites, and the Camellia is one of them!

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  24. I think you are 'spot on' with this camellia treatment. It is a luscious beauty. I look forward to seeing it grow.

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  25. I can smell the lemons from a distance! yes, take good care of them and do not send the outside yet and you will have a good harvest in summer. I love lemons!!!

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