Growing Camellia Seeds
Camellia seeds are easy to grow; the most important thing to remember is that they should never be allowed to dry out! After harvest, our seeds are immediately stratified for a minimum of 2 months to encourage long-term viability and uniform germination.
"Stratification" is the process of manually replicating winter or 'cold season' conditions for seeds. While Camellia seeds do not actually require a 'cold season' in order to germinate, it tends to make them perform much more reliably. When seeds are started in the post-stratification "spring", success rates are higher, and seedlings emerge both earlier and at a more consistent rate.
Prepare a seed tray or small pot with well-draining soil; we recommend 2 parts aged pine bark to one part perlite, mixed with the lowest recommended rate of any slow-release fertilizer.
Seeds planted indoors should go into a small pot or tray with well-draining soil. I used a soil mixture of 2/3 aged pine bark and 1/3 perlite with the lowest recommended rate of slow release fertilizer mixed in. 3-5 seeds can be planted in a 4" pot, or more seeds can be planted in a tray. I plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and keep moist, but not wet. Temperatures of 40°F to 75°F are good for germination, although higher temperatures will encourage faster emergence. A bright window should be enough light. I would put the pot in partial shade or filtered light if outdoors. I usually transplant these after the plants form a few leaves. The roots system can be tangled and it is OK to cut off the long, developing tap root to prevent coiling of the roots. When weather is above freezing, I would put the plants outdoors in partial sun. Seedlings in pots are watered when the soil begins to dry out, but this depends on the conditions such as atmospheric humidity and temperature. Light fertilization in spring and early summer helps encourage growth. It is possible to have seedlings bloom in 2 years, but usually, it takes 4-5 years. Small seedlings can be overwintered the following winter by sinking the pot into the soil in milder areas or keeping in a cool, bright location indoors.
Seeds can be planted directly outdoors, in the shade. A weed-free seedbed should be prepared and marked so it will not be disturbed. Plant the seeds about half an inch deep and allow them to germinate as they are ready. The seeds can be planted in the fall or spring, and they will emerge at the appropriate time. It may be necessary to protect the seeds from animals with a screen (mice are particular fanciers of Camellia seeds). The seeds send a root straight down when planted outdoors, which is good for hardiness. These seedlings can almost take care of themselves; try and keep the weeds from competing too much and some water during dry periods is helpful. They can be transplanted the following winter, if you wish to move them.