For beekeeper’s garden: Tea Shrub


If you are a tea drinker, you may know the difference between the green and the black teas. But have you ever seen the tea shrub, Camellia sinensis? Did you know that it grows easily in zone 7, as an evergreen shrub? Did you know that it blooms in the fall? And how about that it is a bee plant?

Although I knew most of those things for years (I do come from Central Asia, where tea is a staple), I did not know that Camellia sinensis was a bee plant, until, well, I had bees.

I have only two of these evergreen bushes, but I hope I can learn to propagate more!

We had these two Camellias for about 10 years. They are about 4 feet tall. Some years have been tough on them, but I have managed to prune them and the new growth looks very healthy. They have survived our terrible drought this year, but only because I watered them once a week. Again, they don’t need a lot, but just like any Camellias, they prefer acidic soil, sun, mulching and occasional watering. They do very well with my Japanese Maple and Golden Junipers. I hope I can learn propagation of shrubs (that is on my winter reading list) and make some more of these wonderful shrubs. Their small flowers tolerate light frost and are very aromatic. The bees absolutely love them. If you are wondering where I got them, it was from my favorite online nursery, Cloud Mountain Farm. Unfortunately, it is now only available for pick up, so if you know of any other sources, please e-mail me or post on our Facebook page!

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