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Best uses

Best used as informal hedges or specimen shrubs in woodland style gardens. Makes a lovely, loose-shaped hedge when planted along driveways and garden paths. Good cut flowers.

Physical characteristics

Rounded, evergreen shrub reaching around 1.5m tall and wide at maturity.

Flowers and foliage

Evergreen shrub with rounded leaves that produces rich blue flowers on and off throughout the year.

Preferred site

Prefers partial shade to full shade with well-drained soil.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. Plant after autumn rains when the soil is moist and warm. Before planting, ensure that the root ball is saturated and remove planter pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball, press in and water well once planted. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow-release fertiliser and then every spring, apply organic fertiliser (such as blood and bone) at a handful per square metre.

It is sometimes difficult to get plants established under mature trees, so planting in early winter and watering frequently will help. Mulch with bark to improve appearance, conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Organic material, such as sawdust and bark, contribute to soil structure. However, make sure to keep mulch away from plant stems. The first summer and autumn after planting are critical for young plants, so water thoroughly during dry periods. A light application (50g/m2) of general-purpose fertiliser in spring is beneficial. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3cm of the soil, taking care not to damage surface roots.

Tall plants and those in windy positions require staking to stabilize the root ball until established. Position the stakes in the hole before planting and place the plant between them.

Prune off any old flowers after flowering. Further pruning can be carried out after the danger of frost has passed. Cut old canes which have finished flowering or any that are crowded or damaged. Leave unpruned shoots which have not flowered, as these will flower next season. Only prune back by 1/3, as dichroa don’t require hard pruning like other plants, such as hydrangeas.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Camellia Garden