Why does no one plant native Stewartia?

edlincoln(6A)

I just discovered there are two species of Stewartia native to North America, Stewartia ovata and Stewartia malacodendron. Native flowering trees, at least one of which is good to zone 5/ Why are these so seldom planted? Is there some "catch"? Are they vulnerable to disease or something?

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Campanula UK Z8

Mmm, they are rare in the UK too. They are slow...and this is usually a negative for many people but, for the UK tree growing trade, the main issue is their reluctance to transplant. None of that undercutting and lifting from the fields as bare roots - they have to be grown in pots...for a longish time - consequently, a good specimen is not cheap...although this is only an assumption of mine .I would love one - especially for that gorgeous bark - but they are not keen on lime so they are cast aside like rhodies, flowering dogwoods, zenobia and enkianthus as being too problematic. Anyone who grows camellias really ought to give this close relative a try. No terrible disease issues I am aware of - I also think accessibility is an issue - many nurseries are tightening up their inventory and giving space to a relatively unknown and risky tree/shrub is a big gamble.

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texasranger2

Thats a new one on me, I had to look them up Plants like the first one with the word 'mountain' in the name (Mountain Camelia) are plants I'm usually pessimistic about thriving out here in the midwest. It appears they are both forest plants, Appalachian Mountain natives that grow in a limited area. Its pretty though.

My habit when I'm venturing away from Oklahoma is to consider plants straight south or westward so I'm not too familiar with the lesser known natives in the SE corner of the United States, forests or the Mississippi states, those areas strike me as being wetter than we are here. Maybe I'm wrong but I tend to stereotype that part of the country that way.

I really like running across garden worthy native plants that aren't commonly grown or sold commercially so I think if you can find one, that would be a real asset to your garden.

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dbarron(z7_Arkansas)

Yep, my nursery contact calls them fussy (and if she does..then I don't dare try them). And strangely, my concern was the lack of moisture too (from what she said)...so if I worry about that...you certainly should in OK.

Some of those eastern natives do quite well here (and there)..but that would primarily be those that grow in plains/glades I would think.

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ncrescue

I have seen both in the wild, and they are spectacular plants. I was able to get seeds of S. ovata and have quite a few started. I have been told they are easy to germinate but difficult to keep going, as wet winters, which we have here in NC, can be deadly to potted plants. A friend gave me a piece of S. malacadendron that had layered itself, and I hope it will "take." I bought two of these years ago, and they are still small. So, yes, very slow and fairly expensive to buy, but they are worth trying to include in your garden if you can find one. If one ever blooms for me, I will certainly post a photo!

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sam_md


This link is of a previous discussion of silky camellia, scroll down.

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ncrescue

Lovely photos. Hope those were taken in your yard! My bought trees came from a vendor at Cullowhee Native Plant Conference and from UNC Charlotte plant sale at the greenhouse.

Sam, were you successful eventually in getting any starts from seeds, layering, or cuttings? My "layered" piece looks quite healthy and adjusted to its new place. Fingers crossed!

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susanpeach

ncrescue, any chance I could get from you a stewartia ovata that you've started from seed? I have a little place in Rabun County, Georgia which is smack in the limited native range S. ovata, and would love to see one growing here. Thanks for the tip on Cullowhee Native Plant Conference; I'll be going in July to see if I can find my summer dogwood

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ncrescue

I am taking some to the plant auction for the NC Native Plant Society. If I have one left, I will bring to you at Cullowhee. I don't think I would want to mail it although the three year old ones are only about 12 in. tall. I planted one of the four year old ones in the yard in January of this year, and it has already grown about six more inches!! Guess they like it better in the ground, and they probably don't suffer as much from the excessive rain we have had in the last month.

This one has been identified as S. ovata v. grandiflora, so it has the purple stamens that make it look like the other native one.

Email me a reminder off list so that I don't forget.


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susanpeach

Well, I can't figure out how to email you off list. susanpeach at livedotcom

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sam_md


pic taken today, the absolute crown jewel of my flowering shrubs.

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ncrescue

Wonderful! But what does the $5 indicate? Size? Is this one S. ovata v. grandiflora? It has purple stamens, but so does S. malacodendron. Anyway, it deserves to be your crown jewel.

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sam_md

I think its important to put something in the pic to indicate scale, that way we can see the large, 4" flowers of S. malacodendron. The bark is not ornamental but who cares with flowers like those.

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ncrescue

More native plant people should seek out this plant. It really is special. Thanks for posting the photo.

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lwally14

ncrescue, I discovered this plant online. I'm having a very difficult time locating any plants or seeds. Would you be willing to part with some seeds?

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ncrescue

I don't have any seeds at the moment. I sent some to Niche Gardens in NC. They grew them out so may have some plants left. I donate the ones I have left to our NC Native Plant Society, to auction for money for our scholarships.

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lwally14

Thanks for the response. I will check them out.

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cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)(zone 7, Northern VA)

I planted one here in northern VA, but it didn't survive.

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ncrescue

Stewartias, at least in pots, don't like a wet winter and will rot. However, my plants that I raised from seed were planted out in Oct. two years ago and are doing fine. No extra water after the first week. Before I was "into" natives, I planted Camellias and overwatered that summer, killing most of them.

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ncrescue

I have to post my first Stewartia malacodendron blooms. These are from the layered plant I got three seasons ago. The S. ovatas are still too small to bloom, but they look healthy. I hope that these blooms turn into seeds. Would love to try to grow these out, too. Counted 15 buds, so maybe at least one will get pollinated.


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sam_md


Sept of 2015 I put several seed in these pots and simply forgot about them. Many have germinated and the ones that appear empty may germinate next year, that's Stewartia for you they germinate on their own schedule.

My large shrub in my side yard is absolutely loaded this year. Funny thing, have never seen any winged insect come to the flowers. There are however many bitty ants. What pollinates stewartia flowers?

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ncrescue

I always wait at least three years before "dumping" the pots. Halesias are often slow, too, although this past season I had a couple germinate in the first year. I am excited at your news of germination and hope I get some seeds to try. However, we had so much rain that blooms fell off rather quickly. Fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing your info.

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barbarag_happy(8A)

Stewartia has established itself deep in the woods within a local arboretum. All attempts to establish it in a prominent location where visitors can easily see it have been in vain.

I would love to grow it at home but my woods are next to a tidal marsh. Too wet.

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sam_md

Quick update on my Silky Camellia. I consider it a distinctive shrub. Yellow fall color is fleeting.


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