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A true splendor of flowers presents itself over the cold season with the camellia. The East Asian beauties are becoming increasingly popular in this country and can easily be kept all year round. The most important thing is the right winter quarters, because this is the only way for the tea shrub plants (bot. Theaceae) not to shed their flowers over the winter. Overwintering camellias is easier than many people think, as the plants even need a little cold.


Are camellias hardy?

In Central and Northern Europe, Camelia japonica are not considered hardy as temperatures can easily drop to -10°C or more, which doesn't really suit the plants. From temperatures of -12°C to -14°C the leaves change color and the flowers can already be lost at -2°C. For this reason, an effective winter protection essential for the East Asian tea plants if you have a specimen in the garden. Despite their sensitivity to cold temperatures, it does not mean that camellias have to be avoided in all German-speaking regions. The following areas are favorable for wintering outdoors.

  • northwestern coastal areas (North Sea)
  • northwestern Germany from Düsseldorf to Bremen
  • Upper Rhine
  • Southern Switzerland
Camellia, Camellia japonica

There, camellias can be kept outdoors all year round, even without winter protection. If you live elsewhere, you can increase the hardiness of plants with hardy varieties, even if they aren't actually hardy.


The following list gives an overview of suitable varieties of Camelia japonica, which can even cope with harsher winters and the appropriate winter protection.

  • Camelia japonica 'Ice Angels'
  • Camelia japonica 'Winter's Joy'
  • Camelia japonica 'Black Lace'
  • Camelia japonica 'Alba Plena'
  • Camelia japonica 'April Dawn'
  • Camelia japonica 'Barbara Morgan'
  • Camelia japonica 'Bonomiana'
  • Camelia japonica 'Matterhorn'
  • Camelia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem'
  • Camelia japonica 'Wheeler'

All of these varieties withstand periods of frost down to -12°C very well and can outdoor hibernate easily. Of course, winter protection should not be missing with these, but these varieties are better armed against frost and darkness than the other varieties. There are even species that are even more hardy, but still cannot be described as truly hardy. However, the varieties of the autumn flowering chamomile (bot. Camellia sasanqua) survive the winter in the local latitudes even better than the Camelia japonica and are therefore even better suited for outdoor keeping. Although they form fewer flowers, the scent is indescribable.

The following two types can be mentioned:

  • Camellia sasanqua 'Winter's Snowman'
  • Camellia sasanqua 'Winter's Joy'

HIGO camellias

In addition to the varieties and species mentioned above, the HIGO camellias should also be mentioned, also known as camellias with the suffix "H" in the name. The name HIGO indicates the origin of these Camelia japonica varieties. They hail from the historic province of Higo, present-day Kumamoto Prefecture, located in Kyushu. These varieties are selected by the Higo Camellia Society. They are camellias that have good properties against cold, mainly because of the single flowers. Some varieties can withstand temperatures of -20°C with winter protection and are therefore perfect for home gardens.

The following varieties are particularly noteworthy:

  • Camelia japonica higo 'Kumagai'
  • Camelia japonica higo 'Hiodoshi'
  • Camelia japonica higo 'Hatsu Warai'
  • Camelia japonica higo 'Mikuni-no-homare'

These camellias can easily overwinter outdoors in Germany and if they get too cold, they show this with blackened stamens. On the other hand, they do not lose their flowers so quickly, which is one of the problems of the well-known camellia species. Although HIGO camellias are a bit more expensive to buy, they are becoming more and more popular due to their robust growth. No matter which species or variety you ultimately decide on: spending the winter outdoors is not possible without winter protection and should be used for purely safety reasons, even in regions with mild winters. This is the only way to guarantee that the camellia will survive the winter.

Camellia, Camellia japonica

Tip: Dealers often offer their camellias as a hardy variety, although these are not a hardy variety. Therefore, when purchasing, be sure to check the variety so that you do not accidentally buy a camellia that will die at the first sign of frost.


Hibernate in a pot: instructions

Keeping the camellia in a bucket is still best at home, as you can simply bring the camellia into your home at the end of the year. In addition, it is easier to rearrange the plants according to their light and temperature requirements. If your place of residence is too cool or you wanted to keep the plant in the bucket from the start, you need a suitable room for the winter quarters.

This should be as follows:

  • constant temperature from 0°C to 12°C
  • no draft

In the conservatory


Conservatories or greenhouses are best suited for this, as they offer enough light and never get too warm. Alternatively, you can place the camellia in an unused room that must not be heated throughout the winter. The reason for this lies mainly in the flowering period. The buds present their splendor over a period of a full six weeks. However, if it is above 12°C, the flowering period is reduced to a few days. On the other hand, if the temperature is too cold, the flowers are dropped. When wintering, you must allow the Camelia species the following rhythm.

Camellia, Camellia japonica

Rest period from late December to late February

This six to eight week rest period is necessary for the plant. During this time it hardly needs any light and can even be kept in unheated, dry cellars. The humidity should always be around 60°C. Simply spray lime-free water around the plant every day or set up an air humidifier. Water only a little so that the soil does not dry out completely and fertilize only during the flowering period.

beginning of spring

From March, the camellia must be accustomed to a warmer location again. Since it is not hardy, it must not be placed in the garden or on the balcony. If you have stored the plant in a dark room, it must now be moved to the hallway or an unheated room. Night-time temperatures here can be as low as 6°C to 12°C and the camellia now needs a lot of light. Fertilize and water as you would during the dormant period and watch the humidity.

As soon as the temperatures outside are consistently above 6°C at night and there is no longer any risk of frost, you can place the camellias back on the balcony or terrace. If you had the camellia in the living room, you can put it back there when you no longer need to use the heating.

Camellia, Camellia japonica



Although camellias are not hardy, you can overwinter the plant outdoors in warmer regions. Keep in mind that younger or newly planted camellias will definitely need winter protection, while older and more established specimens will need less winter protection. Proceed as described below.

1. The location of your camellia should be chosen so that it does not get any morning sun over the winter, as this dries out the plant too quickly. A garden fleece can be used as sun protection, which is simply placed on the eastern side of the plant. The location must also be sheltered from the wind. Walls, hedges or dense fences are ideal for this.

2. Cover the root ball with a thick layer of mulch or foliage. This ensures warmth over the winter and at the same time prevents drying out.

3. If you have a young specimen or a newly planted camellia in the garden, you will need to pack them up as they are not hardy at all.

For this we offer:

  • reed mats
  • fir branches
  • fleece

Alternatively, set up a chain link fence around the plant and fill it completely with leaves.

autumn leaves

4. Watering is only done on frost-free days.

5. Be sure to watch out for frosty nights in spring. These could damage the fresh shoots if it was warm during the day. Here you should leave the winter protection a little longer as a precaution.

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