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Flowers from Spring Through Winter

Camellia japonica flower and buds.
John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Camellia japonica flower and buds.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of the wonderful traits that camellias japonicas have is their ability to produce flowers over a long period of time. The buds which are present in fall are protected by an all-encompassing and protective calyx, the specialized structures at the base of a flower. As an individual flower begins to open, the cells in the preformed bud begin to swell, pushing open the calyx.   As long as bud remains tightly encased, without showing any color, it will probably sail through freezing temperatures unscathed. Since our South Carolina winters have cold periods followed by warming ones, there are usually some buds that were  protected that will open without any damage several weeks after low temperatures killed the flowers that were blooming. Keeping camellias hydrated, particularly before a cold snap,  helps ensure that these buds will make it through tough times.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.