The camellias are a much loved genus of shrubs and trees and very few gardens exist without at least one.
The main limitation is alkaline or chalky soil which camellias will not grow in, but they are happy in a container, so long as it is large enough and so you can grow them like this, with imported soil or compost.
Their attraction is twofold: the flowers in late winter and spring, and the glossy foliage for the rest of the year. Although some camellias can grow into very large trees of up to 20m (70ft) it is the smaller shrubby forms that are the most popular especially in smaller gardens. These can be as short as 1m (3ft) but the majority grow to at least twice that.
The flowers when at their best are perfection. There are singles and doubles; the doubles being, classified as double, semi-double, anemone-, peony- or rose-form depending on the arrangement of the petals. All should be as symmetrical as possible. The colours vary from white, through pink to red, and even yellow, in varying degrees of intensity. The first appear surprisingly early in the year, but the majority wait until the early spring before opening.
Although the plants are hardy they do best in warmer areas where the frost does not damage the blooms. The foliage is large and glossy, their shine making them a good plant to illuminate a dull corner. Plant it away from cold winds and the early morning sun in a moist neutral to acid soil.