Camellias dislike the cold winds and although many are fully hardy, the buds and flowers can be damaged by the morning sun which causes the damage illustrated in the image left. This is a common problem with Camellia, and to avoid or reduce this problem, Camellia should not be planted facing East where the blooms will catch the morning sun. This is particularly a problem when there is frost followed by morning sun, which really does damage the buds and blooms, causing them to go brown as in the image left. It is the combination ofearly morning sun and frost which does the most damage, and as a result many of the shrub's flowers can look similar to the one in the image. This means when growing Camellias selecting where to plant it is more critical than with some other types of shrubs. It is because Camellias are sensitive to frosts which damages their blooms, a sheltered non east facing spot is best and if you garden in a colder area prone to frost, growing Camellias will present more of a challenge. Generally Camellias prefer semi- shade.
Wet and windy weather can also turn the lovely blooms brown.
Another problem is that sometimes Camellias fail to flower. When this occurs it is always worth trying an ericaceous feed in the spring and early summer. Flower drop can also be a problem and if it is very dry in the spring, water well to prevent flower drop. It's best to avoid watering with tap water because it contains Calcium which reduces the acidity. It is important to feed Camellias only with ericaceous feed and early in the year. Camellias are grown for their flowers but also their foliage which is a rich, very glossy green, or should be. Sometimes Camellias can look a bit patchy, with yellow or light coloured foliage. The most common cause of this is that the soil is not sufficiently acid. In which case either re plant in a container, or feed with ericaceous feed and don't use tap water. It is best not to let Camellias to dry out at any time of the year, as this can lead to poor flowering and bud drop.
When planting a Camellia dig a large hole and add leaf mould, if possible which is ideal, or a suitable ericaceous feed. Camellia should be planted at soil level. To check this once you have placed the Camellia in the hole, lie a cane across the top of the hole to check the shrub is at soil level, and then fill in and water well. The most important point is to plant in a suitable spot, sheltered with dappled shade and out of direct sunlight.
Generally Camellias do not need pruning, but should you want to prune a Camellias bear in mind the buds form in summer and autumn. This means if you are to avoid cutting off the buds you must prune just after flowering in the spring. There is no specific requirement to prune and they will happily carry on growing without it. If a Camellia becomes overgrown it can be hard pruned and will re grow.
Having said all of that, once established in the right place a Camellia will happily get on with the business of growing and flowering without much attention; the trick is to plant it in the right place and soil to start with.
The RHS recommends the following varieties :
Camellia x williamsii 'Donation' large pink semi-double flowers which flowers from late winter to mid-spring; 5m x 2.5m, will grow in a shaded position and is more hardy than Camellia japonica 'Adolphe Audusson which has bright red flowers in early spring, 5m x 4m
Camellia 'Cornish Snow' small, white single flowers in late winter; 3m x 1.5m. H4 rating
Also : Camellia japonica 'Tricolor' which as the name suggests blooms are white, striped red and pink. C x williamsii 'Brigadoon' semi double rose pink blooms. C. Japonica 'Elegans' large rose pink flowers.