Long cultivated as a source of cooking and cosmetic oil, this exceptionally cold-hardy camellia is also a valuable ornamental plant. Tea-oil camellia has been cultivated for so long that its precise native range is obscure, though east-central China around the Huai He Valley is a likely location.
This small, erect evergreen tree or large shrub develops slender branches that tend to slightly droop at the tips. The tapered, elliptical leaves are dark green with lighter green undersides. Fragrant white flowers appear in late fall, winter, or early spring. Each bloom has five to seven petals and a central mass of yellow stamens. They ripen to dry capsules that split open in early fall to release spherical reddish brown seeds.
Grow tea-oil camellia in very bright indirect light or light dappled shade. It prospers in organic-rich, moist but well-drained acid soil. Its tolerance to winter chill makes it one of the best camellias for container culture. Its hybrids also exhibit superior cold-hardiness.
Camellia tea oil may be extracted from this species as well as C. sinensis and C. japonica. The oil is extracted through cold-pressing the seeds. Tea oil is pale green, softly fragrant and edible. It resembles olive oil and grape seed oil and has excellent storage qualities and low saturated fat. Do not confuse camellia tea-oil with tea-tree oil, which comes from the paperbark tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)and is not edible. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Camellia
Species - Oleifera
Common name - Tea-oil Camellia
Pre-Treatment - Not-required
Hardiness zones - 7 - 10
Height - 8'-25' / 2.4m - 7.6m
Spread - 6'-20' / 1.8m - 6.1m
Plant type - Tree / shrub
Vegetation type - Evergreen
Exposure - Partial Sun, Partial Shade
Growth rate - Medium
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral
Soil type - Loam, well drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier
Germination rate - 65%
Bloom season - Early Spring, Fall, Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter
Leaf / Flower color - Green, Dark green / White
|Germination||1. Place the seeds in a deep bowl. Boil water in a pan, then remove it from the heat. Pour the just-boiled water over the seeds. Soak them for 24 hours to soften the outer hull. |
2. Sow the seeds in individual 4-inch greenhouse pots filled with a mix of one-half potting soil and one-half perlite or vermiculite. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1 inch. Make sure the pale spot, or eye, on the end of the seed is positioned horizontally.
3. Set the potted seeds inside a shaded cold frame on a germination mat. Set the temperature on the germination mat to between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not lower the temperature at night. Drape a sheet of plastic wrap over the pots to hold the warmth around the seeds.
4. Keep the growing medium moderately moist. Allow the top 1/2 inch to dry out before adding more water to prevent rot. Add water until it begins to trickle from the base of the pot.
5. Look for signs of germination in one to two months. Remove the plastic wrap after sprouts emerge, but keep the germination mat in place for another two weeks to encourage fast growth.
6. Transplant the seedlings into 8-inch pots filled with potting soil once they produce two sets of mature leaves, or four leaves total. Move the pots to a sheltered area under very light shade with morning and late afternoon sun.
7. Grow the plants under light shade for two to three months, or once they grow to 1 foot in height. Provide an inch of water weekly. Acclimate the shrubs to direct sun over the course of seven to 10 days in early autumn.
8. Transplant the plants into a permanent bed with acidic, consistently moist soil in the fall after the first rain. Space them at least 15 feet apart. Provide light shade during the shrub's first summer in the ground to prevent stress.