The tea plant from the genus of the camellia and the tea shrub family grows as an evergreen shrub or small tree. Depending on the species, it can reach heights of one to five meters. The yellowish-white flowers appear on this camellia between October and February. Leaves and leaf buds are slightly downy and the fruits that Camellia sinensis produces are hard-shelled and hazelnut-like. This plant does very well outdoors in summer. Since it is not winter hardy, it should be brought into the house before the first frosts and then wintered accordingly.
Table of Contents
- Botanischer Name Camellia sinensis.
- Evergreen aromatic tea plant.
- Belongs to the genus of camellias and to the tea shrub family.
- Grows as a shrub or small tree.
- Can reach heights of 1-5 meters.
- Leaves and buds covered with light fuzz.
- Flowering period from October to February.
- Flowers yellowish-white, white or white-cream colored.
- Fruits hazelnut-like capsules.
Even if the real tea plant is to be kept as a houseplant, it is advisable to put it outdoors in spring in a place protected from wind and direct sun. The ideal location both outside and in the room should be light to partially shaded, not too warm and have a relatively high level of humidity.
In summer, the best thing to do is to put the plant in a slightly shady and also very humid place. If it is in a glass house during the summer, for example a winter garden, sufficient shade must be provided so that the temperatures do not rise too sharply.
Tip – After you have put the tea plant outside in the spring, it can happen that the flower formation stops for a short time, but this disappears very quickly.
This plant prefers well-drained and slightly acidic substrates, which should ideally be enriched with organic substances. Commercially available potted plant soil can be used, for example. The addition of coarse-grained fractions improves the drainage of water and the absorption of nutrients. This can be chippings, fine gravel, expanded clay or lava gravel. Kokohum is also suitable for mixing in. Or you can make a mixture of acidic peat, lime-free compost and coarse leaf soil in equal parts. The pH should be between 4.5 and 5.5.
Watering and fertilizing
The water requirement is moderate even in the summer months. Accordingly, only water sporadically. The substrate should have a low but even moisture content at all times, it must neither dry out nor be too wet. Accordingly, water in the saucer or planter should always be removed.
At best, you only pour when the top substrate layer has dried. Since Camellia sinensis needs a high level of humidity, it is advisable to spray it more frequently with lime-free water (rainwater) during the skin growth phase from April to August and in winter.
Just like the need for water, the need for nutrients is also relatively low. As a result, it is sufficient to give the tea plant a high-quality liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks from April to September. Commercially available rhododendron fertilizer, for example, is well suited.
Tip – To encourage flower formation, it is advisable to reduce the amount of water between July and August for about 5-6 weeks, but without the root ball or pot ball drying out completely.
Younger plants should be repotted about every 1-2 years in March or early summer (June / July), or when the root ball is well rooted. Older specimens usually do not need to be repotted as often. The new pot should always be only slightly larger than the old one. The tea plant, like most camellias, quickly suffers from root rot. That is why a good drainage of water is the alpha and omega, i.e. good drainage at the bottom of the pot.
Tip – Camellias in general do not like to be moved around frequently. Mostly they react to a change of location by shedding the flower buds. The best thing to do is to look for an ideal location and leave it there permanently.
- This camellia does not normally need to be pruned.
- Despite everything, this plant is very easy on pruning.
- In spring, when budding begins, you can cut back into the old wood.
- Otherwise, slight correction cuts are possible immediately after flowering.
- At intervals of 4-5 years, it may be advisable to cut back more strongly.
- This is supposed to limit the growth in height and stimulate the formation of new leaves.
- If too many old branches remain on the plant, the leaf yield decreases.
In order to protect the tea plant from damage caused by frost, it is brought inside again during the first regular frosts. At best, they should be placed there in a moderately warm but bright room with temperatures between 8 and 15 degrees. It shouldn’t be warmer than 15 degrees in winter, because then this plant sheds leaves and flower buds relatively quickly. Direct sunlight should also be avoided in winter.
An unheated winter garden is particularly suitable for wintering. But a place in the cool bedroom or a bright stairwell is also fine. Keeping them in heated rooms is not recommended in winter. Since this plant also evaporates water through its leaves in winter, it is important to water it sufficiently but not too much and, as already mentioned, to spray it more often. In March / April, the new shoot usually appears.
The tea bush is only very rarely or not at all available in stores. But there is also the possibility of propagating it by sowing, among other things. Sowing is possible all year round. If a plant already exists, the seeds are first taken from the hazelnut-sized shell. To support germination, they can be roughened a little with sandpaper before sowing. They are then soaked in lukewarm water for about 24 hours.
You can now sow in small pots. To do this, the seeds are placed approx. 1 cm deep in a moist sowing substrate, for example in soil containing peat or a mixture of commercially available potting soil and peat. It is important that the substrate is not too moist or wet, because then the seeds could mold very easily.
Then you put the growing container in a warm and bright but not sunny place, ideally you use an indoor greenhouse. The optimal germination temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees. To avoid mold, the mini greenhouse must be ventilated regularly. Depending on the environmental conditions, the seeds germinate within 2-6 weeks. As soon as the seedlings are big and strong enough, they can be separated into small pots in a loose and slightly acidic substrate.
Tip – If it is not possible to sow seeds that have been bought in a timely manner, they should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place at around 4 degrees after receipt, for example in the refrigerator.
In addition to sowing, the tea plant Camellia sinensis can also be propagated using cuttings from the head. Propagation from cuttings should preferably take place during the dormant phase around the end of June. Cuttings that are cut later are usually more lignified, so that their rooting can take a little longer. Head cuttings or partial cuttings can be cut.
Each should have three sheets of paper. The cuttings are cut as diagonally as possible and always below a leaf base, whereby this leaf is removed. The remaining leaves are cut by about half in order to keep evaporation as low as possible. Now the cuttings are placed in a mini greenhouse in a peat-sand mixture, which should be kept slightly moist. Then cover the whole thing with glass or foil, put it in the shade and ensure that the air and soil moisture is even.
At a soil temperature of 20 to 22 degrees, roots will have formed within approx. 8 weeks. The cuttings are now cultivated at temperatures around 22 degrees and a humidity of 70-80%. It takes at least another year for the young cuttings to be strong enough. After about half a year they can be made a little lighter. In the first few years they are pruned again and again so that they develop into small bushes and are able to flower from around the third year. During this time, fertilization can be carried out with a minimal emphasis on nitrogen.
Under unfavorable housing or location conditions, as with many other indoor plants, an infestation with scale insects can quickly occur. This pest can be recognized by small, dark labels on the trunk as well as the underside and upper sides of the leaf along the leaf veins as well as sticky honeydew on the leaves.
To combat it, it is advisable to wipe it with a cloth soaked in alcohol. However, you should proceed very carefully, because under the animals there are usually eggs that must be removed to prevent re-infestation. Regular checks are then called for as a preventive measure.
Corresponding pesticides are also available in stores. However, these should only be used with this plant if it was used purely as an indoor plant and not specifically for tea production.
mites Spider mites are mainly found on the undersides of the leaves of young shoots. You can recognize them by their very fine webs and small yellow or silver dots on the leaves. The infestation can be significantly reduced by intensive showering, especially on the underside of the leaves. To do this, you put the pot in a plastic bag that is tied to the trunk. This is to prevent the pests from falling on the substrate.
A slight infestation can then be removed with a detergent solution, for example, by wiping the leaves with it. The whole thing has to be repeated several times in order to catch all generations of this pest.
Spraying a neem oil solution should also be very effective against spider mites.
Thrips As a rule, unfavorable housing conditions, such as warm and dry room air, are also responsible for a thrips infestation. An infestation is shown by silvery suction marks on the lower and upper sides of young leaves. In order to initially decimate an advanced infestation, a vigorous showering with lukewarm water is also recommended here.
Afterwards, you can spray with homemade vegetable brews made from onions, garlic or nettles or with neem oil products. The use of beneficial insects such as lacewings or predatory mites can also be helpful. Combating with chemical agents should be avoided if possible.
frequently asked Questions
Why is Camellia sinensis losing leaves and flower buds?
If camellias lose some leaves, it is usually normal. However, poor housing and location conditions are often responsible for the shedding of leaves and buds. The camellia also does not like it when the location is changed or when it is moved or rotated.
Most camellias are only partially suitable as houseplant, including the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Therefore, optimal housing conditions are all the more important. It is best to ensure that the room temperatures are rather cool than too warm, the humidity is not too low, and avoid sudden changes of location.
Which camellia species is still suitable as a houseplant?
Camellia japonica is most often cultivated as a houseplant, although it is only suitable for indoor cultivation to a limited extent. It is important that you also pay attention to a light to partially shaded and cool location with temperatures of around 12 degrees and high humidity. From May to October she should have a place outside. In terms of care, it is also similar to the tea plant Camellia sinensis.