Camellias grow best in partial shade and do well when shaded by tall trees or when protected from southern exposure sunshine. In addition, shade reduces damage from the cold during the winter. Camellias should be sheltered from strong wind, especially near the ocean, since salt spray can damage them.
As camellias take root, they become more hardy and able to tolerate more sun. By their third year, camellias need little watering, especially if their drainage is good.
Camellias should be planted in the spring to give the roots time to get established before cold weather arrives. Roots should be well-mulched, and regular watering is crucial for the first year or two. The flowers should be fed with acid-forming fertilizer in spring and again after the flowers drop in midsummer. Camellias don't need much fertilizer and shouldn't be fertilized if they appear sick. They should be pruned after blooming is over, with dead growth removed and lower branches shortened.
Bud drop is a common problem for camellias, which often set more buds than the plant can support. It can also be caused by overwatering, as well as by drought or freezing. Other problems frequently afflicting camellias include sunburn, tea scale, camellia petal blight and camellia leaf gall.