Learn how to grow Camellias with this online course. Understand their cultural requirements, the different species in cultivation and how to propagate them.

Course Code: VHT109
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Become a Camellia Expert

  • Learn to identify and Grow different types of camellias
  • For amateurs and professional gardeners and nurserymen
  • Learn from qualified and experienced experts from both the UK and Australia
  • Follow a passion, or work in horticulture


Where to Use Camellias

They have a myriad of uses for every climate and are worth growing for their beautiful flowers or hardy shrub habit.

There are many different ways camellias can be used in a garden. A very long-lived group of plants, there are some Camellia specimens that have lived for over one hundred years.

Camellias are used as an ornamental shrubbery plant, as topiary, or as a tub plant. They will grow surrounded by lawn or paving, and can even be espaliered. Both C. sasanqua and C. japonica can be trained as a hedge.

Camellia japonica is grown predominantly for its ornamental, glossy foliage and attractive flowers. It can also be used for topiary, as a hedge, or as a tub plant. Tea, the drink, is made from the leaves of a camellia (C. sinensis). Although not commonly seen, Camellia japonica and C. sasanqua have both been successfully grown as standards. Their flowers can also be used, when picked fresh, for a short-term flower display indoors, for example, floating them in a container of water as a table arrangement.

Woodland Plantings
In a larger garden, this involves planting camellias under tall trees in an attempt to recreate a natural forest habitat. While Camellias may produce good vegetative growth in dense shade, they don’t tend to set flowers as well if light levels are too low.
Deciduous trees are generally preferable in this situation (so light levels are higher over winter), although evergreens are acceptable provided the canopy is not too dense.
Camellias are often planted along with rhododendrons and azaleas in this type of situation. All of these plants like very similar conditions.

Garden Beds
Camellias are ideal as background shrubs in a garden bed, with either perennials or low woody shrubs in the foreground.

The Camellia varieties used in this type of situation should be selected according to:
• Flower Colour
• Time of flowering
• Foliage colour and texture
• Suitability to the light conditions

In an open bed, the plant may be more exposed to light than under the canopy of small trees. Some cultivars are more suited to this situation than others. (NB: Even though they almost all have green foliage; the shades of green can vary; and the young growth tips can also vary in colour)

Specimen Trees
There are thousands of varieties that can be grown as a single plant in the centre of a lawn, at the end of a path, or in some other prominent position to create a feature or focal point within a garden. In some localities, Camellias have even been used successfully as street trees.

Taller growing types such as varieties of Camellia reticulata are often the most appropriate for such situations.

Other species that can make successful specimen trees include:

C. tsaii; C. rosiflora and C. transnokoensis. C. japonica and some common hybrid cultivars can also be appropriate.

As with garden bed specimens, a specimen tree may find itself exposed to more intense light than it would under a shade tree. Keep that in mind when selecting a cultivar.

Ground Covers
Lower growing Camellias that have a sprawling growth habit have occasionally been used successfully as a ground cover. This can look particularly effective when they are planted alongside or in front of other taller growing varieties. Too maintain this ground cover effect, you may need to prune the taller growing shoots or tie them down with pegs in the ground.

Growing Camellias in Shade
Camellias grow very well in shady places; but sometimes you don’t have such a place and will need to create one in order to grow camellias well. Be mindful of the fact that extreme shade might actually be a disadvantage, and the roots of large shade trees can compete with Camellia roots for both water and moisture.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • General characteristics of the group
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs etc)
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Pest & disease
    • Feeding
    • Pruning
    • Protection from wind, salt air etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating camellias
  4. Using Camellias
    • Woodland planting
    • Garden beds
    • Specimens, ground cover, shade plantings
    • Topiary
    • Hedging
    • Pleaching
    • Espaliers
  5. The most Commonly Grown Varieties
    • Selected C. japonica varieties reviewed
  6. Other important Groups
    • Camellia sasanqua & varieties
    • Camelia reticulata and varieties
    • Camellia sinensis and varieties
  7. The Lesser Grown Varieties
    • Review of other species
  8. Special Assignment - On one selected plant or group.


  • Identify different camellias.
  • Describe the cultural requirements common to most, if not all, camellias.
  • Propagate camellias using different techniques.
  • Determine and describe different ways of using Camellias.
  • Describe the identification and culture of most commonly cultivated camellias.
  • Compare the identification and culture different groups in particular japonica, sasanqua and reticulata camellias.
  • Discuss a range of lesser grown species and cultivars of Camellia.
  • Discuss a specialist camellia related topic in depth

What Camellias are Cultivated Most?
Of the (approximately) 250 species of Camellias that exist; most are indigenous to China. The most commonly grown types are:

Camellia japonica
This is perhaps the most widely cultivated and diverse species, having many thousands of named cultivars. It has dark green glossy leaves and large single or double flowers. Camellia japonica prefers a temperate climate and does not tolerate drought conditions well. When experiencing a drought they suffer with attack from pests and diseases. How ever when there is sufficient moisture and the growing conditions are temperate, they put on a wonderful display.
Camellia japonica prefers part shade, and does not thrive in the full sun well. They tend to suffer from leaf burn and subsequently the leaves go pale in appearance when faced with afternoon heat from the sun.
There are more than 20,000 named cultivars of Camillia japonica.
Camellia sasanqua
This species has smaller flowers than japonicas, and slightly lighter green coloured foliage. The leaf shape and size is smaller than that of the japonica. This makes it more adaptable to the full sun, due to its smaller leaf shape. They are generally more adaptable to warmer or more humid climates; but will also thrive in a temperate climate. They handle drought conditions much better then Camellia japonica, and will survive in tough conditions where japonica would not. Compared with japonicas, they tolerate sun better and the cold less.
Camellia reticulata
These are larger plants (up to 18m tall although rare) with very large flowers (can be over 20cm diameter). They are known as reticulate due to the strong veins in the leaves and reticulated patterns they produce in the leaf. They tend to be less tolerant of cold than japonicas, but due to their size, are often unsuited to smaller gardens. They have a tall open growing habit and make a great feature tree. Keep away from hot dry winds and midday sun.
Often they are harder to find in cultivation as they are grafted and not in large supply.

Cultivars number in their thousands. Sports (mutations) commonly occur resulting in many new cultivars. These naturally occur in camellias grown near the coasts of Japan, Taiwan and Korea, and are widely cultivated in temperate areas.

Camellia sinensis   This species is a crop plant. grown commercially to produce both black tea and green tea.

Other species are cultivated (of course), but nowhere near as much as those listed above. The course will concentrate on the more commonly cultivated species; however others are covered, and much of the knowledge you gain about growing the common species, is readily applied to cultivation of all species.


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Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Diana Cole

Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Permaculture Design Certificate, B.A. (Hons)-Geography, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development
Diana has been an enthusiastic volunteer with community garden and land conservation projects sinc

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

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