Published on 01/16/18

'Kanjiro' camellias are beautiful and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

By Norman Winter

In Japanese, the word “kanjiro” means “you must feel.” I’m not sure if that means “to touch” or “to experience,” but the ‘Kanjiro’ camellia is certainly one to experience. The ‘Kanjiro’ camellia is known botanically as “Camellia hiemalis” and debuted in 1954. The longevity of this camellia cultivar, which is entering its 64th year, is a testament to both its character and performance in the landscape.

Over the last dozen years, I’ve experienced the full beauty of the ‘Kanjiro.’ When I was a Mississippi State University horticulturist, I had the opportunity to film several that were planted along the streets of downtown Brookhaven, Mississippi, as part of a beautification project.

My son uses it to provide some fall-blooming razzle-dazzle in Columbus, Georgia. At the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia, we planted hundreds about five years ago as a screen for a chain-link fence. I remember thinking that these camellias would take a while to screen the fence. In the present, I think that this was a great idea.

The ‘Kanjiro’ is cold hardy from zones 7 through 10. In terms of geography, a little more than a third of the country can experience its beauty. It will grow in a container but must be moved to a protected space during the winter.

The ‘Kanjiro’ camellia is evergreen with dark, glossy leaves that seem to be the perfect backdrop for the scores of rose-pink blooms with bright, golden stamens. You can expect it to reach 8 to 10 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet in width.

I always preach about the placement of the necessary bones of the landscape. An adequate portion of evergreen plant material is required to accomplish this structure. Camellias, like the ‘Kanjiro,’ are a perfect choice. They have deep green, glossy leaves and offer weeks of terrific blooms.

Like all other camellias, they require fertile, well-drained, acidic soil. This coming spring would be a great time to plant woody shrubs, trees and camellias, like the ‘Kanjiro.’ Garden centers will have their best inventory then.

The camellias along the Coastal Botanical Garden’s Judge Arthur Solomon Camellia Trail are all placed in a series of beds. The canopy of trees high overhead allows just the right amount of light for the camellias’ vigorous, healthy growth. If we make an investment in the landscape, it only makes sense that we do it right by putting our shrubs to bed. It is so sad to see a fine camellia, like the ‘Kanjiro,’ in a location where it’s surrounded by turf.

Glossy leaves and hundreds of buds and blooms that attract pollinators, including the long-tailed skipper butterfly, make the ‘Kanjiro’ camellia highly desirable. I hope you will add a ‘Kanjiro’ camellia to your garden this spring.

Follow me on Facebook at “Norman Winter ‘The Garden Guy.’” For more about the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, go to

Norman Winter is the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia.

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