Garden Photo of the Day

Growing Camellias in Zone 4!

A small greenhouse bring flowers into the depths of winter

A blooming camellia, ripe lemons and a fig tree thriving while snow covers the ground outside.

Nina Eadie saw our recent GPOD post with camellias, and had to take a moment to share her experience! She wrote,

I just saw the camellia posting, and I have to disagree that you can’t grow camellias in zones colder than 7! In my zone 4-5 Montana garden I have cultivated this little guy in a pot in my greenhouse along with a potted fig (Ficus carica, Zones 8 – 10)  and a potted Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri, Zones 9-10).

The greenhouse small (my advice to anyone building a greenhouse is to make it at least twice as big as you think you need!), but it’s big enough to give me my gardening ‘fix’ through our long winters.  There’s a lot of storage on top of the soffits, and even a small workspace.

We built the greenhouse on the south side of the garage, so there’s enough light to overwinter the camellia, fig, lemon, rosemary and a few other small things that aren’t winter hardy here. It also makes a nice sunroom on bright winter days. We’re far enough north that it has to be heated (there’s a small wall heater on a thermostat), and all the seeds have to started under lights.

The story of this little camellia (variety unknown) is a funny one.  It was originally given as a gift to my hairdresser, who self-identifies as having two black thumbs.  In addition, it was a bonsai, so when she begged me to take it off her hands it was pretty much dead.
I repotted the half-dead camellia, and shaped it over several years, and it has rewarded me in the dead of winter, when I need it most, with an explosion of bloom. I bring it into the house to enjoy it during those dark days.
It’s a very tough little plant, requiring very little care, and if I ever have a larger greenhouse, I plan to adopt some siblings for it!
Who says you can’t have lemons just because you live in the north?
The fig growing in a pot on the greenhouse porch for the summer.
The exterior of the greenhouse.
The workspace in the greenhouse.
The seed starting station, with supplemental lights to make sure they thrive.
View Comments


  1. flowerladydi 03/05/2018

    So charming Nina! Great greenhouse!, it is more like a warm cozy little house! Adorable! Charming plantings and great Camelia and fig! Your dog is adorable too!

  2. user-7003263 03/05/2018

    Great greenhouse & pretty plants. Your camellia, fig, & lemon tree all seem to be very happy in the winter space you have provided for them. Precious long-haired dachshund.

  3. Sunshine111 03/05/2018

    Good morning Nina! Your post is lovely. I don’t have a greenhouse but I live in zone 5b in New Hampshire, where I to have a fig and a Meyer lemon tree. I’m lucky enough that I can bring them into the house and put them in front of a sunny window and overwinter them. I’m a bit jealous about the size of your Lemmontree though it’s huge and it has so many lemons on it! Mine is not thriving for some reason like yours though. Thanks for your photos your story and your post !

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/05/2018

    Your hairdresser certainly picked the perfect person to take over the nurturing of her gifted but dying camellia. The abundance of beautiful flowers and the plentiful crop of lemons seems to prove that your thumb is the ideal shade of green. Your greenhouse is delightful looking from both the inside and the outside.

  5. User avater
    PKKing 03/05/2018

    I agree with everything already said. How wonderful to enjoy beautiful plants in your house and greenhouse while looking out the window to the snow covered mountains beyond. Especially with your adorable dog cuddled up in your lap. Your pictures are so charming. Thank you!

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/05/2018

    Very nice. We'd call that a Florida room in Ohio! I'd be spending a lot of time out there in the winter. Love the fig on castors. Ever had a bad storm blow it around outdoors? :)

  7. wildthyme 03/05/2018

    Thank you all for your comments! Fannie Mae was pleased with your compliments (you can see her brother, Rocky Boy, just peeking out behind the left side of the camellia in the house!). Dvngardener, don't give up on the lemon! I've found the most critical element is consistent water; it's on a drip when outside and in winter gets very little water. Tim Zone Denial Vojt, the wind does want to shred the fig leaves, but so far it's stayed put on the porch!

  8. Chris_N 03/05/2018

    How wonderful to have your camellia blooming in the dead of winter! Your greenhouse looks like a great place to sit and relax. Plus I want a copy of your sign in the greenhouse. Have not seen that before!

  9. btucker9675 03/05/2018

    What a great greenhouse! I have never had luck with Meyer lemons - but every few years, the idea seduces me and I try, try again. I've had blooms and even some tiny "starter" limes, but then they just drop off. Sigh...

  10. Cenepk10 03/06/2018

    You are so organized & tidy. Love it. Love your greenhouse ! Camelias are tough. I chopped one to the ground & it came back !!! Now it’s the proper size for the space. Saw your gardens. Absolutely gorgeous & the backdrop isn’t too shabby either...

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