As featured in this months San Diego Home & Garden E-News
December is a tricky month for gardeners. For example, watering is complicated as weather is variable — cold some of the month, with an occasional hot spell. During a hot spell, it’s a good idea to turn off automatic sprinkler controllers and use them manually. Buying plants at this time of year can be a puzzle, too. To eliminate surprises, buy plants in bloom.
Camellias are a good winter planting choice. The red-flowering ‘Yultide’ camellia seems to be a favorite among gardeners. Camellia japonica also is beautiful with its large double flower. C. japonica generally blooms later and flowers into early spring (hint: float the blooms in a glass bowl as a table centerpiece). Camellia sasanqua — which bloomed early this year — have a smaller, darker serrated leaf with a smaller, single flower than the traditional camellia japonica. They don’t require as much shade or water as C. japonica.
Morning sun is best for camellias unless you are right on the coast, and then they will take afternoon sun as well. It’s best if the soil for camellias is rich with peat moss, organic compost and clean topsoil in equal parts. A general rule of thumb for these (and all plants) is to trim them and feed them after they quit blooming.
For a beautiful shade border, mix shade-loving camellias with clivia, holly fern and some impatiens.
Don’t forget that December also is a good time to start working on beds for bare-root plants — like roses — that we plant in January. Roses and deciduous fruit trees will be coming soon…