If you are new to gardening in warmer zones, then you may not have discovered all the variety and beauty that camellias offer in your garden. With an amazing range of colors and bloom seasons, it is possible to have camellia flowers in bloom from fall to early summer, and all through winter too. Many of the camellias sold are spring blooming, but there is a whole group of lesser-known camellias that flower in fall, and no garden should be without these beauties, because the unexpected thrill of seeing such flowers at that time makes it worth seeking out these varieties. At the Tree Center we have done the work for you, and we sourced a great supply of one of the very best of the fall-blooming camellias, so let’s drink a toast to the Sparkling Burgundy Camellia.
Growing Sparkling Burgundy Camellias
Like its name, the Sparking Burgundy Camellia is a bright, vibrant purple-red flower, that blooms for weeks and weeks on an upright, slightly arching shrub. It grows rapidly to become a center-piece in your garden, 6 to 10 feet tall, and 4 to 8 feet wide. With leaves to the ground, it is a beautiful shrub even when there are no flowers, and it is the perfect way to fill a corner, end a view along your garden, or to place among other shrubs in a mixed bed, that with a little planning can have something in bloom every day of the year. It grows well in all those awkward shady spots, which is another reason why camellias should be in every garden where they can be grown.
Measuring 3 to 4 inches across, the flowers of the Sparkling Burgundy Camellia are a little smaller than those on spring camellias, but they make up for it by the profusion they are produced in. Each flower lasts about a week, and the fat buds just keep coming and coming, so that a plant will be in flower for months. The first blooms appear in mid-fall, and then, depending on the weather, open through most of the winter. Each bloom is a delicious shade of purple-red – close to the dye called Rose Bengal. The many petals are ruffled and pleated, so that the flower looks like an open peony. Mixed and hidden among the petals are yellow stamens, but these only become visible when the flower is mature. Don’t forget that camellia blooms can be picked and floated in a bowl of water in the house, where they last for days.
When not in bloom the foliage of the Sparkling Burgundy Camellia is beautiful to see too. The oval leaves are 2 or 3 inches long, with foliage right to the ground, and the branches are upright, but spreading outwards a little too, making a more open look than is seen in many other camellias. This shrub is vigorous and fast-growing, adding 6 to 12 inches of new growth each year, and soon becoming an impressive addition to your garden.
The Sparkling Burgundy Camellia is easy to grow, if you just place it in a good location. It does best in light shade, or with morning sun and afternoon shade. The north side of your home, with clear sky overhead, is a wonderful location, and it can be hard to find plants for north walls. The branches are flexible, and you can even tie them to a wall or trellis, spreading the plant out, so it takes up just a narrow space, leaving room in front for summer blooms, such as hydrangeas. It is also a great choice for large pots and planters, which are often the perfect way to grow these plants if you don’t have suitable soil.
It is soil that has given camellias a reputation for being ‘hard to grow’, because they do need acidic soil, with a pH value between 5.5 and 6.5. You can test your soil easily with a probe or test kit from a hardware or garden center. Even easier is to look around. If your neighbors are growing camellias or azaleas, then you almost certainly can too. If you find your soil is neutral, then by applying chelated iron in spring and fall, you will probably be able to grow a bush in your garden successfully. Even easier, and necessary for alkaline soils, is to grow them in pots, using soil blended for acid-loving plants, and a fertilizer for camellias or azaleas. This way you can even move the pots around to enjoy them when in bloom, and then move them to a less conspicuous place for the other half of the year – a perfect and easy solution.
History and Origins of the Sparkling Burgundy Camellia
The Sparking Burgundy Camellia is a hybrid plant, created by Rene Casadaban, from Abita Springs, Louisiana. He took pollen from a fall-blooming Japanese camellia called Camellia hiemalis ‘Shôwa-no-sakae’. He then used that pollen to fertilize another fall camellia from Japan, Camellia sasanqua ‘Hinode-gumo’. Among the seedlings he found one that was vigorous with unique flowers, and he called it ‘Sparkling Burgundy’. This wonderful new plant first became available in 1957, and over the last 60 years it has made its way into the hearts of thousands of gardeners around the world, as a top, award-winning favorite. It will do the same for you if you order now, while our stocks last, because otherwise it will remain just a dream.