Growing a Camellia Hedge in Australia: Expert Tips

Camellias make an excellent hedge thanks to their dense growth habit and relatively low maintenance requirements.

Featured Image: Camellia sasanqua / Photo by そらみみ / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 4.0

Camellias are a favourite with gardeners right around Australia. They’re hardy and have lovely glossy green foliage over the warmer months and delight us with their prolific blooms in winter.

A camellia hedge would make a great addition to your landscaping as it provides an excellent dense screen and doesn’t require too much maintenance.

Do camellias make a good hedge?

Camellias make an excellent hedge thanks to their dense growth habit and relatively low maintenance requirements.

They also lend themselves well to regular pruning and shaping.

What is the best camellia variety for a hedge?

Camellia sasanqua | Plant care
Camellia sasanqua

Although most will grow well as a hedge, the best camellia varieties are in the Camellia sasanqua genus. These camellias have smaller leaves which makes them ideal for pruning and shaping with hedge shears and clippers.

They also flower prolifically from late summer right through the winter. This adds some gorgeous colour to your garden throughout the colder months when other plants are dormant.

You can expect a Camellia sasanqua hedge to reach a height of around 2 to 3 metres in just 3 to 5 years, depending on the cultivar that you select. 

Camellia ‘Plantation Pink’ is one of the fastest-growing cultivars and has delightful single pink flowers. This variety is also ideal for growing against a fence or wall in espalier fashion.

You can even get dwarf varieties if you only want a low-growing hedge of around 1 metre in height. Consider varieties such as Camellia ‘Paradise Little Liane’ with double white flowers or Camellia ‘Paradise Sylvia’ that has stunning single crimson flowers.

The larger-leaved Camellia japonicas can also be grown as a more informal hedge.

Camellia Japonica plant | Plant care
Camellia japonica / Photo by Eleusius / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Due to their large leaves, it’s not recommended that you prune these with hedge clippers because you’ll be cutting some of the leaves in half. This leaves them open to infection from diseases.

What growing conditions do camellias like?

Most camellia varieties prefer to grow in a semi-shaded position in rich, well-drained soil. Garden areas that receive morning sun but are shaded from the scorching afternoon sun are ideal.

However, you’ll find that varieties with darker coloured flowers will also do quite well in full sun while white flowering camellias really do prefer a more shaded position.

Camellias are also acid-loving plants which means that they prefer a soil pH of around 5.5 to 6.0. This also means that they require specific fertilisers that are designed for acid-loving plants. 

They prefer to be kept well-watered while they’re young and not yet fully established. However, once established, they’re fairly drought-hardy.

How to plant camellias

Camellia japonica | Plant care
Camellia japonica / Photo by PumpkinSky / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Camellias are fairly easy to plant once you prepare the soil. Ideally, you want to add some aged compost or cow manure to the plot first.

This will provide adequate nutrients to the young plants as well as keep the soil relatively acidic. Ensure that the soil is also free-draining.

Once you’ve prepared the soil, dig your planting holes. These should be twice as wide and as deep as the rootball of the plants. Take the plants out of their pots and tease out the roots a little.

Place each camellia into its planting hole and backfill the soil around the roots. Water well as this helps the soil to settle around the roots.

Add a layer of mulch around the plants. You could use aged compost for this or even leaf litter such as oak leaves.

Camellia hedge spacing

How far apart you space your camellia plants will depend on the variety that you’re growing. Cultivars that are tall growing can be spaced around 1.5 metres apart.

On the other hand, dwarf varieties for a shorter hedge can be spaced around 30 to 40 cm apart.

How to care for a camellia hedge

camellias | Plant care

When the plants are young, you want to encourage bushy growth by tip pruning them regularly.

Every cut that you make on the tips will result in two more stems from that point. Therefore, you should do this regularly after planting your camellias.

Once your hedge has become established, it’s only necessary to prune your camellia in late winter or early spring once the flowers have finished.

Try to avoid pruning in summer and autumn because this is when the plants are producing their flowering buds.

To give your plants a boost, you also want to fertilise them in early spring after you’ve pruned them. This will encourage new growth and more flower buds. Make sure that you use a fertiliser that is suitable for acid-loving plants. 

This is also a good time to add another layer of mulch around the root system. This will help to keep the soil cooler during summer and retain moisture more easily. 

In general, once well-established, camellias shouldn’t need any supplementary watering unless you experience extended periods of hot weather with no rain.


How tall do camellias grow?

This depends entirely on the variety that you’re growing. Some varieties of Camellia japonica can grow as tall as 3 metres while dwarf varieties of Camellia sasanqua will only reach a height of 1 metre.

How long does a camellia take to grow?

In general, Camellia sasanqua varieties can grow to a height of 2 to 3 metre in just 3 to 5 years. This makes them relatively fast-growing.

What time of year do you plant camellias?

Camellias can be planted at any time of the year but the best time to plant them is in autumn and winter. 

Do camellias have invasive roots?

In general, camellias do not have invasive roots. While they do have strong, thick roots, these tend to grow near the surface and don’t go deep down into the soil. That’s why it’s important to keep your camellias well mulched to keep the roots cool.

How do you make a camellia more bushy?

Tip pruning will make your camellias bushier. This is because two growth points will form at every cut that you make at the tips of the branches. You should do this often while the plants are young if you want a nice bushy hedge. 

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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