The flower of a Yuletide winter camellia.
Common Name: Sasanqua camellia, winter camellia
Botanical Name: Camellia sasanqua
Form: pyramidal to oval-rounded, tree-like
Plant Type: broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size: 6’ to 14’ x 5’ to 7’
Origin: Japan, China
Hardiness Zone: 7 to 9
Foliage: dark green, glossy up to 3” long, hairs on midrib & petioles, with rounded serrated margins
Flowers: September to February, 2-3” fragrant, pink, red or white, 6 to 8 petals with showy yellow stamens, which remain after petal-fall
Fruit: ¾” red shiny, smooth capsule
Stems: pubescent (hairy)
Exposure: full sun to part shade, protected area
Soil: acid pH of 6.0 to 6.5, rich, evenly moist, well drained
Uses: mixed borders, foundation plantings, hedges, screens, hedgerows, woodland
Pruning: prune after flowering to shape
Problems: anthracnose, viruses, black mold, petal blight, canker, root rot, iron deficiency, scale insects and spider mites
Cultivars: new cultivars include single, semi-double to fully double petals
Late fall and winter flowering plants are not the norm, so when one is as beautiful as the sasanqua camellia blossoms, it’s a worthy of a place in the garden. Finding the right spot is key to their health and performance as they are a bit fussy.
Prefers morning sun and afternoon dappled shade in a protected area from hot sun and wind. Doesn’t like dry soil so provide water during dry spells, especially the summer and add 3 inches of an organic mulch. They tolerate more sun if the soil is moist. They grow best in soils high in organic matter so add compost, leaf mold, well-rotted and/or composted mantures.
Blooms for 4 to 6 weeks as additional flowers replace the spent ones and sporadically occurs up to 6 months. The showy yellow stamens remain on the plant after the petals fall. The beautiful blossoms are followed by small rounded fruits.
A common problem with camellias is chlorosis – a lack of iron. Symptoms are yellow leaves with green veins. They need a rich acid soil with lots of organic matter. Improve soil conditions by adding compost, well-rotted manure etc. A good 3 inch layer of mulch is essential to prevent chlorosis and for overall plant health. To correct the condition, improve the soil, add mulch and apply iron chelates, available at garden centres, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.