Camellia x williamsii ‘Debbie’
Glossy leathery foliage is the perfect foil in late winter for the rose pink double peony-form flowers up to a whopping 12cm across. This acid-loving shrub has an open and upright habit, and performs best in part to full shade and moist, well drained soils.
Camellia x williamsii was an early Camellia hybrid, bred in 1923 by J.C. Williams of Cornwall by crossing the familiar Camellia japonica with the less well known Camellia saluensis. In the wild C. japonica grows in Mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea and Southwestern Japan, whereas the other parent C. saluensis is only found in south-central China.
Camellias have huge cultural and historic significance in East Asia, with Camellia japonica featuring in Chinese art since the 11th Century. In the 18th Century European colonialists took Camellias back and popularised them across Western horticulture.
C. x williamsii hybrids like ‘Debbie’ flower later than C. japonica, often reported to begin in January and bear flowers through to as late as March. However, luckily they have inherited Camellia japonica’s renowned cold hardiness. Hybrid vigour, the phenomenon whereby a cross of two species has improved abilities, means that this group of Camellias are particularly floriferous. Like many C. x williamsii, ‘Debbie’ has slightly translucent petals, making them all the more attractive in the late winter sun.
Care & Size Guidance
Reasonably vigorous for a Camellia, this can eventually reach 4m over many years in the right spot. Given a large enough container, adequate watering and ericaceous compost they can do extremely well as specimen potted shrubs.