Camellia flowers begin appearing during winter warmups when few other flowering shrubs bloom. The Camellia japonica bush is a very popular and well known group of flowering evergreen shrubs that will be discussed first, before discussing the other group, Camellia sassanqua. These plants were introduced into America from the Orient where the C. x japonica had been hybridized as a flowering plant for centuries. Camellia japonica flowers can grow in a flattened layer of flower petals with yellow clusters of stamens in the center, or in three dimensional layers of petals, called "double or semi-double" A camellia plant can begin flowering at a very early stage, even when only one foot tall, but this flowering shrub is very slow growing, a characteristic unlike most other evergreen shrubs that grow during the entire year. The C. x japonica blooms are normally teacup size, but camellia buds when "Gibbed" (treated with gibberellic acid drops from the local pharmacy) the flower size dramatically increases several-fold. The flower colors of C. x japonica are red, pink, white and variegated, and surprisingly, the eventual variegation in the flower color can be predicted to occur prior to flowering, if there are splotches of yellow or white variegation on the usual, dark green leaves. Most camellias are cold hardy from zone 8 thru 10, but have been known to survive zero degrees F in the January freeze of 1983, although the bushes were severely damaged and slow to recover. Winter freezes are unpredictable and freezing will occur intermittently, so that some winters the camellia plant will begin flowering during a winter warmup period, and then a sudden freeze will ruin the flowers on the exposed camellia bush, along with ruining some opening buds, but frosted, immature buds will flower later, so that flowering can recur several times during the seasons. Camellias seem to thrive best underneath the partial shade of Pine Trees and Oak Trees, but are sunburned when planted in full sun. Some very large camellias can be seen growing in the full sun at Tifton, Georgia; a result that their early life was shaded underneath shade trees that eventually died out or were removed by property owners, so that after removal of the shade trees, the camellias were left growing and isolated in the full sun. The root system of the camellia plant is very delicate and fibrous, like blueberry plants and azalea shrubs and must be kept shaded, cool and planted in shallow earth, never covering the emerging trunk with soil. Several popular and wonderful flowering hybrid camellia cultivars are: the red double flowered, "Professor Sargent", the crimson, "Mathotiana", the "Pink Perfection", "Debutante", and the white, "Alba Plena".