How Does a Winter-Flowering Plant Make Seed?

Camellias are introduced plants from Japan and nearby Asian countries that have adapted well in the Southeast United States for more than a hundred years. In the south, camellias bloom in the fall or winter or early spring, sometimes before bulb plants. In nature, not many plants bloom at this time.

Camellias are shrubs with woody perennials with new green stem growth each year. Flower buds grow on or near the tip of the stem. Slightly fragrant flowers are self-sterile and produce nectar and pollen. Insects or birds move pollen from male stamens on one plant to female stigmas of another Camellia species or cultivar.

Insects such as European honeybees or birds such as hummingbirds are their pollinators, although some wind pollination occurs. The hardy insects and birds active in the fall, winter, and early spring in a mild climate are supplied with nectar and pollen by these plants. Unexpected cold weather impacts the pollinators and pollination. Camellia propagation is by seed, cuttings, layering, and grafting.

This Camellia japonica is common and blooms with several buds on many terminal branches. Though it is an introduced plant, its unusual bloom time supplies some insects and birds active when they are in bloom. Indoors on the Northern Plains, three Camellia cultivars bloom in containers in November and December.

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2 thoughts on “How Does a Winter-Flowering Plant Make Seed?

  1. When we grew camellias, mostly Camellia japonica,they almost never fruited. Although some types are more likely to produce seed than others (that have been too extensively bred), I they likely did not get pollinated. I suspect that their pollinator of choice was either not present, or inactive during bloom.

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