Unsuitable for growing in chalky alkali soils, camellias will fail to absorb adequate nutrients. To correct this, we recommend you use acidic compost and fertiliser, mix pine needles into your mulch and water with rainwater.
Camellias were named by Carl Linneas after Georg Joseph Kamel, a Jesuit missionary who provided ample accounts of Philippine flora.
Ornamental camellias were introduced in the 18th century with the first grown at Thorndon Hall by Robert James, a renowned horticulturalist and British peer. Considered exotic, and therefore suitable for hot, humid climates, camellias were originally grown in the hot houses, where they quickly died. Exploding in popularity with the expansion of the tea trade, dozens of new species were bought in and it became common for the rich to establish camellia houses. Although fading in popularity due to the rise of orchids, camellias were revived after World War 1 due to their suitability to temperate climates.