The Higo camellia

BY BRUCE BRANUM

The Greenville Standard

 

A bit of a cold snap has caused the early blooms of the different cultivars of Camellia japonica bushes to wither somewhat, but new buds are opening and the color they offer to winter will continue.

The Higo camellia bloom picture taken for this article on Dec. 17 was near the intersection of Glendale Street and Northgate Street in Greenville. Higo camellias are known as the “flowers of the samurai” or samurai camellias.

Various online sources indicated Higo camellias are a group of Camellia japonica cultivars bred, selected and cherished by Samurais and their families in old Japanese province of Higo, which is now Kumamoto prefecture.

One distinguishable characteristic of these camellias is its large, perfectly symmetrical cluster of golden stamens, from 100-300, that flare like a sunburst from its asymmetrical petals, few in number.

Flower colors range from red to pink to white with some displaying streaks or blotches. The plant’s needs are few. Never fertilize camellias when they are in bloom as they are dormant then.

Feed with an acid-type fertilizer three times a year: after blooms have faded, in July and in early November. Apply a three-inch organic mulch such as compost after picking up any fallen blossoms.

Camellia blight, a fungal disease caused by overhead water, is the only major disease. Remove all brown flowers to help keep plants healthy.

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