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Camellia sasanqua ‘White Doves’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)
Camellia sasanqua ‘White Doves’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)

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Zone
Zones 4-9, 12, 14-24, 26-32
Partial Sun
Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Camellia sinensis

Tea
Theaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

CAMELLIA

Camellias grow over a wider latitude range along the West Coast than anywhere else. Typically loaded with white, pink, red, or variegated blooms during the cool season, many of these robust shrubs flower heavily when other bloom is scarce. Native to southern and eastern Asia, they are unscented except as noted.

Big C. japonica varieties are the most popular, with fall- and winter-flowering C. sasanqua varieties coming in second. All are classic understory shrubs that thrive in filtered shade. They also grow well in pots.

There are six camellia forms: Anemone, formal double, peony, rose-form double, single, and semidouble.

Camellia sinensis

In the West, the tea plant grows as a dense round shrub to 15 ft. tall and wide, with leathery, dull dark green leaves to 5 in. long. White, 1 1/2-in.-wide, fragrant fall flowers. Takes well to pruning. Can be trimmed as hedge. Tea can be grown in California but has never been a major crop for economic reasons.

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