How can I propagate 'Camellia japonica'?

I have a lovely Camellia japonica “Aspasia MacArthur” growing beside my western fence, where it has flourished for over fifty years. It was a bit overgrown, and I cut it back two years ago, which it has taken very kindly: it is now covered with buds.

I’d like to plant another either side of the one I have to screen the view of my neighbours’ yard from my bedroom window, but I’m not sure how to propagate camellias successfully. When I cut mine back last time I gave the cuttings to my sister (at her urgent request) and she failed completely to strike anything. I think I know what she did wrong, but I’d like to be more sure.

Can anyone here advise me on propagating C. japonica? (Bear in mind that I live in a humid sub-tropical climate and that it is just the beginning of winter.) Would I do best just to order a couple in pots from a nursery at planting-time?

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Here are some articles which should aid in your quest:

The technical one

A homebrew method

Basically, these two pages save me a lot of typing :smiley: The next thing I will say though is to have patience. Rooting shrubs can be tricky for some. The key thing is to use young/new growth/green wood. If you try to root old wood it will be much harder.


Reading those, and allowing for the sphericity of the Earth, I reckon that I ought to postpone action to January. And my suspicions about my sister’s previous failure seem to be confirmed.

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Would you mind elaborating on this? For educational purposes of course, to help prevent others from having the same issue.

My sister tried to propagate the camellia cuttings in a commercial potting mix that was compounded to make it nearly impossible for its users to over-water their indoor plants¹, and which was therefore far too free-draining for any practical use. Then in addition, she was not diligent about watering. But you need to keep the ends of cuttings moist to promote rooting.

¹ The nonsense sold as potting mix seems to consist of finely-chopped but un-composted mulch, sand, vermiculite, and slow-release fertiliser. I suspect that in addition to being in effect an instant desert, it is too limy for camellias. My sister would have done better to use sand.

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Also, don’t forget heat. Heat is very important for root development. I cannot remember if that was mentioned in those articles.