Camellia flowers have been popular in gardens around the world for centuries. The Camellia, or Tsubaki, is a common symbol of East Asian countries, including Japan and China. These elegant, evergreen blooms have been celebrated for their beauty and rarity since ancient times, and even today, they are still a favored flower for home gardeners and professional growers alike.
History of Camellia Flowers
Camellia flowers were first described in China in 14th century literature and were first cultivated in a garden by a Chinese monk, Xutong (1119-1202). The Camellia first came to Japan in the 8th century, brought from China by Buddhist monks, and was planted in the gardens of the nobility of the period. From then on, the Camellia slowly became the favorite flower of the court aristocracy. It was the most revered of the “Four Noble Flowers” and was even used in some traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
Types of Camellia Flowers
Camellias are numerous and varied, with hundreds of varieties cultivated to suit different climates, soils, and preferences. Popular varieties include the C. japonica, C. sasanqua, C. reticulata, and C. sinensis.
C. japonicas are the classic formal Camellia and the most widely cultivated. The flowers of this variety are the large, showy type often seen in formal gardens and in flower arrangements. They bloom in colors ranging from white to pastel shades of pink and red, and bloom in late winter or early spring.
C. sasanquas, or “fall blooming camellias”, are some of the earliest blooming of the Camellia family, flowering from late summer to early fall. The flowers of this variety are smaller and more delicate than C. japonicas, and come in colors ranging from white to shades of pink and red, to yellow, orange and apricot.
C. reticulata, or the “hardy camellia”, is a smaller, more vigorous variety that is native to China. This species grows wild in forests and on mountain slopes, and is more resistant to cold temperatures than other species. The flowers of this species are white to pale pink, and bloom in late winter and early spring.
C. sinensis, or “tea camellia”, is the species from which green, white and black tea is derived. It is not generally cultivated for its flowers but rather for its leaves and buds, which are dried and processed to make tea. The flowers of this species are white and small, and bloom from late spring to early summer.
Growing and Caring for Camellia Flowers
Camellias prefer a moist but well-drained soil and need protection from strong winds. They should be planted in a sunny spot to promote healthy growth, and if necessary, their roots should be pruned and the soil should be mulched during the summer months to retain moisture. For best results, Camellias should be fed regularly with a fertilizer specifically designed for use on flowering shrubs.
Uses and Symbolism of Camellia Flowers
Camellias are still admired in many parts of the world for their beauty and rarity. They are used as a symbol of affection for those close to the giver. In Chinese culture, the Camellia is often a symbol of perfected love and longevity, while in Japan, the flower has been used in ceremonies and literature to represent beauty and delicate grace.
Camellia flowers have been appreciated as symbols of beauty and elegance for centuries. Now, they are used in gardens around the world, both as ornamental shrubs and as fragrant cut flowers. When cared for properly, Camellias provide colorful, long-lasting blooms that can be enjoyed year after year.
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