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Camellia 'Red Candles' Exceeds My Expectations

The "snow event" that local weathermen forecasted last week did not materialize, but we did experience very cold rain and temps that fell well below freezing for several nights in a row. I imagined that any open camellia flowers would turn to brown mush, though tightly closed buds would survive. I went out to inspect after the weather warmed up and the sun came out. Yep, most blooms were brown mush. The exception was Camellia japonica 'Red Candles,' also sold as 'Crimson Candles.' It has been blooming for a month and the freezing temps did not faze it:

Since I planted it eight years ago, this shrub has never disappointed me. Its abundant, rose-pink blooms are a beacon in the winter woodland garden. 'Red Candles' has bronze-red new foliage, which turns a deep green. The shrub has matured to about 9 by 5 feet and makes an attractive statement year-round.

Whenever I put in a new plant, I am usually optimistic. I do my research and try to put the right plant in the right place. Nevertheless, some plants die dramatically or else limp along till I put them out of their misery. Others succeed for a while, then eventually decline. Many are understated, doing their job but nothing more. Some do well; yet pleased as I am, I eventually take them for granted. But a few, like 'Red Candles,' are outstanding, each year bringing me new joy and wonder. 

Planting and Caring for Camellias:

'Red Candles' will grow in USDA hardiness zones 7a-9b. A few camellias are hardy in zone 6. All grow best in well drained, acid soil under the canopy of deep rooted trees that allow sun to filter through. I dig wide holes for mine and add compost to the native soil before backfilling around the root balls. To encourage good drainage it is important to plant all camellias high, with their trunk bases above the soil line. I water well and then add mulch around the bases to protect the roots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. To promote good health, keep spent blooms and fallen leaves cleaned from under the shrub. Camellias don't usually need a lot of fertilizer. Wait until blooming has finished in early spring to fertilize with an organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants. 


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Reader Comments (14)

That's one resilient Camellia, Deb! My hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection' did better than I'd expected during the week of rain we received a fortnight ago but it grows against a wall that provides considerable protection. Of course, I also suspect we've been nowhere near as cold as you've been. I haven't ventured out to check how it's holding up under the latest spate of storms.

February 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

We had one that looked like that but I don't know the name. Most of the larger bushes here were planted by Mom and Dad who have both passed away. I have yet to find a really good, affordable way to permanently label plants. We lost two of our camellias in the summer of 2016 when my brother had to dig them up for his renovations of Dad's house. Obviously, not a prime time to move plants.

Deb-This Camellia is exquisite and cold hardy! I will need to check this one out!

Such a beautiful and colourful blooming camelia in winter! Gorgeous!

February 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCalendula

What a gorgeous camellia! Thanks for sharing! xo

February 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterChristi {Jealous Hands}

A beautiful variety, what a wonderful addition to your garden.

February 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

That's a beautiful plant. I have the well-drained, acid soil that camellias love, but I am barely in zone 5 and they would never survive our winters. Thank you for sharing yours with those of us in camellia-deprived climates.

February 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJean

That must be one of the most floriferous Camellias I have ever seen; I can understand why you can so happy with it. a love shape too, I'm not so fond of the very double varieties that tend to look a bit like plastic flowers.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I have heard about people in my zone that have tried camellias. I don't think they really like it here. Maybe it is the soil. When I see a beauty like this one it makes me want to try one though. My poor winter worn eyes are gobbling up this shrub with all the blooms.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLisa at Greenbow

Beautiful! I wish I could grow them.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I wonder how that one, manages to avoid being frosted to mush?

February 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Happy for you, Deb!

I have two camellias, a sasanqua and a japonica.

The sasanqua put on a great show last autumn, blooming for a couple of months, I think.

But the japonica has not even started blooming yet. It's amazing to me how far ahead you are even though you're not that far south of me.

Feeling kinda jealous about that actually ;-)

The only thing blooming here is a bunch of daffodils and they only started flowering a few days ago...

Happy gardening,

February 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Gorgeous! I do miss camellias from living down south. Last fall I bought a camellia that is supposed to be hardy here in zone 6a, but I am waiting until spring to plant it so it has time to settle in before the winter.

February 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

It's a beauty!

February 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

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