This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The soil heat adapted to the growth of Camellias is a mixture of peat and rotten sod in nearly equal proportions, with a little silver sand added. Where the soil is peculiarly light and sandy, a less quantity of peat is requisite. Mix this well together, but not sifted ; use it as rough as possible, as it is necessary the soil should be open and porous ; the plants will have a more healthy appearance. In potting use plenty of broken crocks, thereby securing a free drainage, a circumstance indispensable to the success of the plants. The proper season for the general shifting is when the young growth is hardened, and the blossom buds for next year can be detected at the extremity of the shoots. After shifting all those that require it, place them out in the open air in a shady place; an occasional sprinkling of the foliage will improve the appearance as well as be beneficial to the health of the plants. At all times attention must be paid to watering them properly, the roots being apt to become matted in the pots, so as to render the ball of earth impervious to moisture ; hence it is necessary to see that the ball of earth is moistened by the water poured upon it instead of the web of fibres only, this requiring an examination of the roots, and reducing or pruning them at least once a year, a measure almost indispensable.
At the respective periods of growth and flowering, the plants will require plentiful watering-during the latter, if not regularly supplied, the bloom buds will infallibly fall off instead of expanding into flower. At other times a moderate 6upply is essential. The effect of constantly watering may be presumed to diminish or destroy the fertility of the small quantity of earth allotted to each plant; therefore, when the annual re-potting occurs, carefully take away as much of the former ball of earth as can be done without injuring or cutting the roots.
The Camellia may be considered as a hardy greenhouse plant, requiring a temperature only just above freezing point. Like the myrtle, it will succeed much better than when grown in a higher temperature.
The usual methods of propagation are by grafting and budding on the single red Camellia, cuttings of which are found to strike root more readily than of the double varieties. The cuttings are taken as soon as the young shoots are sufficiently ripe at the base. They are carefully prepared by being cut smoothly over with a sharp knife at a joint, and divested of one or two leaves at the bottom, and then planted firmly about two inches deep in pots filled with the Camellia compost, before described, and the upper part filled with fine sand. They are then well watered and the plants plunged over a little gentle heat and kept closely shaded for three or four months, by which time short fibres or a callus, from which they afterwards diverge, are produced, When sufficiently rooted to bear removal, they are potted singly in small pots, the sand being then carefully removed. The pots should be well drained and filled with the Camellia compost, with the addition of a little white sand. They are afterwards to be sprinkled with water and placed in a close frame or pit, until they begin to root afresh, and by degrees exposed to the air.
The succeeding season they may be potted in the same soil as the other Camellias, and similarly treated, and many of the plants will then have obtained sufficient size and strength for budding, and all of them by the following season. The best time for budding is as soon as the lew wood is sufficiently ripened, but it may be done at almost any season of the year.