Camellia edithae

Common Name: camellia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Theaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 5.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Red to pink
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining, loamy, organically rich, and acidic soils in part shade. Hardy in Zones 7-9. As with most other camellias, Camellia edithae is not hardy in St. Louis (Zone 6). Where this plant can be grown outdoors, consistent and even moisture is important. Avoid wet soils. Plants require protection from direct afternoon sun and wind. Best location may be sun-dappled part shade. Best with a root mulch. Near the northern parts of their growing range, plants should be sited in sheltered and protected microclimates such as near the south side of a home or building. Burlap wraps are sometimes helpful. Plants generally dislike changes in temperature, irregular watering or being moved. Even a change in humidity can cause plants to drop buds. Fertilize monthly in spring and summer. If desired, remove all but one bud from each cluster to increase the size of the flower. Prune immediately after flowering. Container plants are an option for the St. Louis area and other places where plants are not winter hardy, but containers are typically not an effective option because camellias generally overwinter poorly in private residences where growing conditions and room temperatures cannot be controlled. For container plants to thrive indoors, they must be overwintered in a temperature-controlled environment such as a greenhouse where maximum winter temperatures range from 45 to 55 degrees F. Flower buds typically fall off where winter temperatures exceed 55 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Camellia edithae, commonly called dongnan shancha or simply camellia, is an evergreen flowering shrub or small tree native to southeastern China. In most home gardens, this plant tends to reach 6-8' tall and 3-5' wide, although its maximum size can be over 20' tall with an equal spread. Its thick, leathery leaves are dark green and glossy, with deeply furrowed veins. The undersides of the leaves and the surfaces of young stems are densely hairy. The reddish-pink flowers, around 2" in diameter, form at the ends of the stems and bloom in late winter to early spring. In the wild, the flowers are single, but several double cultivars are now available on the market.

Genus name honors Georg Joseph Camel (1661-1706), a German Jesuit missionary to the Philippines who was noted for his work on Oriental plants.

The common name dongnan shancha is the phonetic spelling of the Chinese vernacular name for this species, which translates to southeast camellia.


Camellias are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases including leaf spots, black mold, flower blight, canker and root rot. Scale can be a troublesome insect pest. Aphids, thrips, mealybugs and mites may appear. Yellow leaves may mean too little acidity in the soil. Some flower bud dropping may be natural, but sometimes may be caused by overwatering or underwatering. Limit pruning to removal of dead or damaged wood, unproductive branches, and disproportionately long shoots. Shearing spoils the naturally attractive shape of the camellia. Prune immediately after flowering or in early summer to stimulate branching. Pruning later in the year can remove flower buds.


A unique species of camellia for lawns, shrub borders, backgrounds, informal hedges and around homes in mild winter locations. When grown outside their specified hardiness range, camellias are used primarily as conservatory plants, and they perform quite well in this environment. Since they react badly to change (e.g., drop their buds), it is usually not recommended that they be moved outside in the summer months and then returned inside in the fall. If possible, camellias should be grown in a brightly lit space that can accommodate their large spreading habit and be kept cool in the fall and winter to induce flowering.