Introduced from Japan in 1874, it has since become a favorite patio or garden tree. Growing to 60 feet in the wilds of Japan, it rarely exceeds 20 to 30 feet in the United States.
Stewartias are difficult to transplant and fair best if planted balled and burlapped when small. Once established, however, it is an excellent tree with few pests or diseases and rarely, if ever, needs pruning. They perform best in a moist, slightly acid soil with full sun or partial afternoon shade.
A tree for all seasons, the Stewartia turns an attractive red or purple in its autumn foliage. In the winter landscape, its attractive exfoliating bark is very colorful, presenting mottled patches of gray, green, rust, cream and brown. Stewartia’s most sought after attribute is its camellia-like flowers, hence its botanical name. The white 2 to 3 inch flowers have a showy and fragrant golden-orange center. The blooms open successively from early June to July, but rarely last more than 2 days each while on the tree. The spent blooms then carpet the ground in a showy skirt for several more days. In a time when few woody plants are in bloom, the Stewartia is a garden jewel.