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The Plant Guide

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Japanese stewartia

Stewartia pseudocamellia

stew-AR-tee-ah soo-doe-kah-MEL-ee-ah Audio

A multi-stemmed, deciduous tree with a rounded columnar form, stewartia features stunning bark that exfoliates in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown once the trunk attains a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Serrated foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, develops into a dark green by summer, and turns red or orange in the fall. In midsummer, "glamorous" white camellia-like flowers open in random succession and are followed by pointed brown seed pods, which are persistent but not very ornamental.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsThis tree grows somewhat slowly until established, eventually reaching up to 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It's an excellent specimen tree.

CareGrow in moist, acidic, well-drained soil in full morning sun or partial shade. Avoid a site with hot afternoon sun. Does not do well in areas where temperatures remain high during the night.

PropagationTake greenwood cuttings in early summer, or semiripe cuttings in mid- to late summer.


  • Genus : Stewartia
  • Plant Width : 15 to 30 feet
  • Plant Height : 30 feet or more
  • Zones : 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Flower Color : Green, White
  • Characteristics : Interesting Bark, Showy Fall Foliage, Showy Foliage
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Growth Rate : Slow
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Bloom Time : Summer
  • Plant Type : Trees
View Comments


  1. user-7007060 06/30/2014

    The flowers on my Stewartia fall off pretty quickly after opening. Is this normal?

    1. ngrrsn 09/03/2015

      Yes. From what I have read on other sites from botanical gardens or university extension divisions, they don't produce heavy flushes of flowers (like a spring cherry or crabapple), and the flowers don't last very long.

  2. ngrrsn 09/09/2015

    What do they mean by "medium" moisture? Other sites say it needs moist to wet soils, well draining --- which seems to be contradictory! Seriously, how much and how often do you have to water a 6' to 8' tall specimen? A gallon per day? A gallon per week? (yes, I know, heat, rain, etc all factor --- but what does it need?).

    1. alishagory 05/13/2017

      From my experience it is good to water it very deeply once a week. Also make sure it's mulched very well to retain moisture.

  3. lynnedecew 09/09/2015

    Our well-established 7-8 yr. old Stewartia has suffered this summer. Leaves have turned brown, dried up and appear scorched. We've had a much drier summer than usual, but tried to water as often as possible. Will the tree come back next year or is it time to replace it?

    1. user-7007874 10/26/2015

      Mine has done the same. I had a busy summer and didn't take note. Gave it no supplemental water this year.
      It's been my experience when a tree or shrub hangs on to leaves that means it's going to die. If it pushes them off it is putting energy into the roots and will come back to life the following Spring.
      Hope I didn't kill mine by ignoring it!

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