Winter's Joy CamelliaCamellia oleifera hybrid ‘Winter’s Joy’
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Camellia oleifera hybrid ‘Winter’s Joy’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Shade
The Winter’s Joy Camellia is an amazing fall and winter blooming evergreen shrub that will certainly bring plenty of joy to your winters. The first blooms open in October, and continue into December and even January. Carried in profusion on an upright bush around 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, the flowers are 3½ inches across, with fluted clear pink petals surrounding a golden-yellow center. Grow it as a specimen in beds or on a lawn, plant it at the edge of a woodland, or grow it in a tub or planter box, especially if you don’t have suitable soil.
Partial shade is ideal for the Winter’s Joy Camellia, which should be sheltered from strong sun, but in a bright location. It grows best in moist but well-drained soil rich in organic materials, and with a pH value of 6.5 or less. It is generally free of pests and diseases and deer aren’t a major concern. Mulch in spring and water regularly. No pruning is needed, but if you do need to trim a little, do this in early spring before the new growth develops.
The winter of 1977-78 was one of the coldest and most severe on record. When the noted camellia breeder Dr. William Ackerman surveyed his garden in Ashton, Maryland, he found that of the 956 camellias he had growing, only 15 were still alive. Rather than admitting defeat, he turned his skills to breeding winter-hardy camellias. The result was his Winter Series, and among those plants one of the most outstanding is the Winter’s Joy Camellia. Talk about turning grief into joy – he sure succeeded. Part of the answer was to turn to plants that flowered early, because buds waiting all winter for the coming spring are much more likely to be damaged. That’s why this camellia often begins to bloom in October, and can continue into January – what a fabulous time of year to have glorious blooms in your garden – even in zone 6. The beautiful bush has the handsome glossy leaves we expect from camellias, and the large pink blooms with their ruffled petals are carried in profusion. Plus, no need for tedious dead-heading – spent blooms drop naturally, so your bush always looks superb.
The Winter’s Joy Camellia is an upright evergreen bush growing at a moderate pace to around 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. It is dense and bushy, with compact growth and a few longer, more arching stems. The leaves are leathery, dark-green and glossy, a bit more than 2 inches long and an inch wide, with a pointed tip and serrated edges. Flower buds develop over the summer months, mostly at the ends of the branches, singly or in clusters. The first blooms often open in October, and the flowers open in succession, meaning that blooming continues for months, certainly into December and often into January as well. That’s flowers for 3 or 4 months, at a time when nothing else will be flowering in your garden. The medium-sized blooms have about 18 fluted petals, and measure a full 3½ inches across. The petals are a beautiful medium-pink, clear and bright, surrounding a central brush of bright yellow stamens. A glorious bloom, and needing no dead-heading, since the flowers drop naturally as they finish, keeping the bush always fresh and lovely.
Once the leaves are gone from the trees, imagine the evergreen Winter’s Joy Camellia bursting into bloom among the bare branches. It’s perfect in your shrub beds, or standing on a lawn. Grow it on the north side of your home, or at the edge of a woodland.
If you are tired of boring hedges, then here is an idea. Plant a row of this glorious camellia, spacing them 3 feet apart, and enjoy a spectacular flowering hedge in fall and early winter, and beautiful glossy leaves and dense growth for the rest of the year – a perfect solution. It can also be grown as an espalier against a wall, a great idea in colder zones.
In warmer zones this is a great container plant, especially if you don’t have suitable soil in your garden. You can move it to suit the changing light through the year, and to enjoy it in bloom right outside your door.
Reliably hardy even to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, you can bloom this camellia successfully in zone 6, in a sheltered location. It can be grown in all warmer zones, across a large part of the country.
The Winter’s Joy Camellia grows best in partial shade, with protection from the afternoon direct sun, and sun in winter and spring, where the cold and sun can damage buds. Some morning summer sun is fine, and dappled shade beneath trees is ideal. Take some time finding the right location, as camellias don’t like to be transplanted if you find you have made a mistake. The soil should be moist but well-drained, acidic and rich in organic material, so good soil preparation is important. If you don’t have soil with a pH value of 6.5 or less, then growing in a pot using compost for acid-loving plants is a good alternative, and makes getting the right light levels easier as well. This plant is not drought resistant, so water regularly during the summer months.
Generally free of pests or diseases, and often ignored by deer, the Winter’s Joy Camellia is easy to grow, once you have a good location and suitable soil. It doesn’t need pruning, but if you want to trim it as a hedge, or for other reasons, do this in spring, before the new buds develop, and don’t trim too much or flowering will suffer.
It took Dr. Ackerman a long time to breed his cold-hardy Winter Series camellias. The first was released in 1991, and the variety called Winter’s Joy was registered in 1997, although it had first bloomed in 1986. It is a hybrid plant derived from crosses between two species. For hardiness he used the oil-seed camellia, Camellia oleifera, and for early blooming he used the sasanqua camellia, C. hiemalis. The oil-seed camellia is grown extensively in China to produce tea seed oil, a cooking oil similar to olive oil. It is closely related to the sasanqua camellia.
Bring amazing color and bloom into your garden in late fall and early winter with the Winter’s Joy Camellia. You will love it, and we have some beautiful plants grown by a top specialist in camellia production. Finding the right spot and preparing the soil may take a little effort, but it will be rewarded many times over, every winter, bringing boundless joy into your winter garden – order now, while stock lasts.