About Fall Blooming Camellia Sasanqua

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This article provides information about the fall blooming Camellia Sasanqua
by Brett · Zone 4A · -30° to -25° F to Zone 9B · 25° to 30° F · Shrubs · 0 Comments · September 12, 2014 · 5,839 views

It's no wonder camellias are staples in southern landscapes. For one, they bloom at times of the year; fall and winter, when we need color in our landscape. Two, the flowers are absolutely gorgeous, coming in a wide range of colors and forms. Three, the flowers are produced in adundance. Four, they are exceptionally hardy and long-lived plants in the USDA Zones where they will grow, which, in general, is the South.. Lots of new things are happening in the world of camellias, including new introductions every year of more cold-hardy varieties, and new fragrances and colors.

There are hundreds if not thousands of camellia cultivars among a few different types (species). In this article, we'll take a look at the fall-blooming Camellia sasanquas.

Camellia Sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua have been cultivated in Japan since the 14th century and in the American South for nearly 200 years. The sasanqua varieties bloom in fall through early winter. Though they sometimes take a back seat to their spring-blooming siblings known as the common camellia (Camellia japonica), in many respects they are better plants for your landscape. The most noted difference between the common camellias and the sasanquas is bloom size. Camellia sasanqua may lack the larger blooms, but they make up for it by producing two to three times as many blooms.

There are other differences between the common camellia (Camellia japonica) and the sasanquas. Common camellias typically grow much larger over time, taking up way more space in the landscape. They might start out as a cute little shrub but usually end up growing to 15 to 25 feet in height at maturity. This isn't a bad thing if you're looking to create a tall screen or buffer or maybe a mid-size tree. On the other hand, a mature sasanqua is smaller. Upright varieties can grow 10 to 12 feet high with an equal spread. The dwarf mounding varieties grow just a few feet in height.

Both types are evergreen, however there are foliage differences as well. A sasanqua's leaves are typically smaller and not as thick as a common camellia. The leaves on many varieties will emerge a pretty coppery-bronze color then maturing to a glossy, deep green.

When it comes to form, sasanquas are more airy than the common camellias, having a more graceful form if left to grow naturally with little or no pruning. On the other hand, the common camellias are more dense and stiff looking, which might work better for large formal hedges. But camellias are plants for the shade garden (at least partial shade), and I think the natural look of the sasanquas is best for the shady environment. A sasanqua's branches reach up and out, leaving spaces in between, and its stems are much more pliable. Combine smaller size and beautiful foliage with a graceful form, and you wind up with a plant you can use in many different ways.

In design, I use only sasanquas. Reason being, they simply have more uses. I use camellia more often as espalier (trained to grow flat against the wall of a home or other structure) in the landscape than for any other purpose, however their uses don't stop there. Lower growing varieties, such as 'Bonanza' and 'Shishi Gashira' can be used as a home foundation plant or in borders of landscape beds and islands. Taller growing varieties, such as 'Mine No yuki', can be useful to frame the corners of a home or other structure or "limbed up" (removing lower limbs) to make very attractive, small, evergreen tree that works well as a focal point near entryways or anywhere in the partially shaded landscape. Sasanquas also serve well as as natural or clipped, formal hedges or planted in small to large groupings for an outstanding show of color in landscape beds, even under the under the canopy of a large tree or in woodland borders.

More about the flowers...

Depending on the selection and where you live, sasanquas can bloom any time from late summer through fall or into early winter. One of my favorites, 'Yuletide' was appropriately named because it blooms around Christmas time. This beauty has true, bright-red petals with large, bright yellow stamens. The flowers of sasanqua can be single (one row of petals), semidouble (two or more rows of petals), or double (many rows of petals), usually with a central burst of bright yellow stamens. Some varieties, such as Lady Vansittart (pictured right) produce two or more colors of blooms on the same plant. Some exude a pleasant tea scent - not surprising, as sasanqua is closely related to the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Colors range from shades of red to rose to shell pink to white, and there's even a pale yellow one.


In zones where they are hardy, sasanquas are very easy to grow. Though some folks say they'll tolerate full sun, I think the perform and look better in a partially shaded environment. I always plant them in a spot where they'll receive morning sun with afternoon shade or filtered sun. Too much shade and there won't be as many blooms. Six hours of direct sun a day is perfect. Regarding soil, give them moist, acid, well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter.

In the Upper South, where winter temps and winds are colder, plant them in a sheltered environment, such as on the east side of a home or other structure, or in a courtyard. That being said, there's the October Magic™ Series, a new series of Camellia sasanqua bred for more cold hardiness. More cold hardy than their Sasanqua camellia cousins, October Magic™ varieties have proven hardy in USDA Zone 6, but I'm going to say zone 7 to be safe. For those who live futher North outside of the hardiness range, you can enjoy camellias in containers that can be moved into a greenhouse during the winter.

Where to buy?...

You can buy fall blooming Camellia Sasanqua plants online at GardenerDirect.com


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