Growing a Camellia from Seeds in 7 Steps

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Camellia seeds can be harvested from garden camellia plants in order to reproduce new camellia. Be advised, however, that results may be quite a bit different than the original camellia variety, as seed-grown camellias are seldom true to their parent plant. Still, home gardeners can enjoy the fruits of their labor-and the resulting new camellias-with a few specific steps:

Tools and Materials Required:

  • Seeds harvested from camellias
  • Growing medium
  • Flats or containers
  • Water
  • Filtered sun location

Step 1 - Harvesting Camellia Seeds

According to the American Camellia Society, the best seed for propagation are those from single or semi-double types of plants. Seed pods mature in September or early October when the plant's woody capsule covering the seed bursts open. This is too late to harvest seeds. The best time to collect seeds from the pods is the latter part of August or early September. At this point, the seeds still have sufficient moisture and will germinate quicker.

Step 2 - Soak Seeds

Next, soak the seeds for about 12 hours or crack apart the hard coating. Both procedures help speed germination.

Step 3 - Plant Camellia Seeds

Plant the seeds in good soil, peat moss or peat moss and sand.

Step 4 - Keep Soil Moist

Remember that camellia seeds need moisture, so keep the soil damp-but not wet.

Step 5 - Camellia Seeds Need Heat and Light

Place the container with the newly-planted camellia seeds in a spot that receives plenty of light (about 8 hours a day) and has a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Seed germination should occur in about a month for camellia seeds planted immediately after harvesting. Otherwise, it may be the following spring for seeds that have been stored in a plastic bag and refrigerated.  

Step 6 - When to Transplant

Identifying taproots is important to successfully growing camellia seeds. After about 2 weeks, a white root begins to grow from the seed. This is the tap root. Tips on propagating camellias from seed recommend pinching off the end of this tap root when it is about 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. This forces the plant to send out feeder roots. The seedlings can be transplanted to flats with peat moss and sand or returned to their original location until they develop two to four leaves. At that time, the camellia seedlings can be transplanted to 4-inch pots.

The American Camellia Society says that cutting off the tap root will result in a more fibrous root system and is therefore good for container-grown camellias. For camellias to be planted outdoors, leaving the tap root intact will help the plant survive periods of drought and cold.

Step 7 - Watch and Wait

Propagating camellias from seeds requires a great deal of patience. Don't expect to see blooms from the growing plants for several years. Some may take as long as 7 years or more before the first blooms. Still, the practice of growing camellias from seeds harvested from existing plants in the garden can prove to be an interesting hobby, one which many gardeners find surprising and enjoyable.

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Photo copyright Dave's Garden (