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The Christmas Carol Camellia is a Camellia japonica variety that blooms in the fall and flowers last until Christmas.

It's a weed.... or is it?

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Published on Friday, June 21, 2024

By Victoria Torley

Like most gardeners, I have little pots of “starters,” seeds or cuttings that I need to keep an eye on.

The really important ones sit on a glass table on the deck while others, usually multiple cutting of the same type of plant, are just outside and in light shade. But those special ones? They get pampered and fussed over.

I don’t start with sterilized soil, there are too many cuttings, so naturally I am on the lookout for weeds and I yank them right out when I see them. Usually...

Here’s the problem. How do I know when a weed is actually a weed?

I have a lovely cutting, just one, from a camellia growing happily on the deck. When I checked it after a day or two of ‘negligence’ I noticed a couple of things growing in the pot with it. So what’s the problem, yank them out, right?

The problem is that they all look exactly alike. Hmm. In my experience, weeds don’t all come up at the same time, they are usually different in size and shape, and, after almost six years in Costa Rica, I recognize them as weeds. YANK. Not so this time, so I left them alone.

What could they be? As they grew, they continued to look alike. They couldn’t stay, they would compete with the camellia,  but I was intrigued. Did I plant some seeds in that soil and forget about them? Did I get a puff of wind while I was planting seeds in another pot? There were only four of them...

There was only one thing to do. This morning I dug them out of the camellia pot and gave them soil of their own. Good thing too as the roots were 10cm long or more.

So there they are, repotted and sitting with the “specials” on the deck. It’s going to be fun watching them and waiting for new developments.

Are they vegetables? They don’t look like anything I have ever planted in the veggie garden but I am trying new seeds.

Are they flowers? If so, I hope they have gorgeous blooms.

Are they actually weeds? Oh well, it won’t take much effort to pull them out and discard them.

Gardening can be a mystery.

Plant for the week. The Camellias, are a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae.  These evergreen shrubs or small trees are known for their beautiful and delicate flowers. They are famous for their ornamental value in gardens, with a wide range of colors and varieties available.

Camellias are just as varied and stunning as ever, for example, the Christmas Carol Camellia. The fower makes easy work of decorating your outdoor space for the holidays. This striking plant is a Camellia japonica variety that blooms in the fall, and flowers last until Christmas. The bell-shaped semi-double flowers have petals with soft red centers that fade to white along the edges. The flowers gently hang from the semi-weeping branches of this shrub, also known as Camellia x vernalis.

Find more amazing stories about gardening in Costa Rica on the Costa Rica Garden website. Regarding questions on this article, Ms. Victoria Torley, gardener columnist, can be reached by emailing


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