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Camellia sasanqua

Common Name(s):
Sasanqua camellia
Shrubs, Trees

As glorious as Camellia japonica is in the spring, it is just one of many spring-flowering trees and shrubs.  Sasanqua camellias are a drought tolerant fall blooming shrub that work well as an accent plant, hedge, or tall foundation planting.  Pruned up it makes for a good "small tree" form.  There are numerous cultivars available, including dwarf forms.  Does well in containers and container plants can be overwintered indoors in greenhouses or cool but bright sunrooms to protect from frost.  This plant is slightly salt tolerant.

The true camellia stars are those that flower during the winter when gardeners are starved for bright colors in the landscape.  One of the brightest of those stars is Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide.’  This December-flowering camellia features large, bright-red, single blooms with contrasting yellow stamens that give an eye-catching focus to the winter landscape.  Its glossy green foliage offers the perfect backdrop for its spectacular display.  ‘Yuletide’ has an erect, compact growth habit with dense foliage that lends itself well for use as a loose hedge plant or as a focal shrub. As with other sasanquas, ‘Yuletide’ tolerates drought after it becomes established.  Consider its ultimate height of 10 feet and slow growth rate before deciding on an appropriate planting location.  It prefers well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 for best growth.  It can withstand the sun but does need protection from drying winter winds.  One of the most popular winter-flowering shrubs, ‘Yuletide’ makes a great addition to any southern garden.

Another good choice for winter color is Camellia x ‘Crimson Candles.’  This rapidly-growing hybrid stands out with numerous small, rose-red, single flowers in February and March.  The new foliage is bronze-red, and the plant is vigorous and disease-resistant.  One of its best features is its sepals, which are red throughout the winter while the buds are maturing.  This gives the bud the look of a red candle long before the flowers open, hence the name, ‘Crimson Candles.’  Suited for hedges, espalier, topiary or bonsai, this cultivar can also withstand night temperatures in the 20s.

Play Value: Wildlife Enhancement

Wildlife Value: This plant is mildly resistant to damage by deer.

Seed: Capsule

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Camellias are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases including leaf spots, anthracnose, viruses, black mold, petal blight, canker, and root rot. If petal blight occurs (browning that runs from edges to the center), all infected plant parts should be promptly removed. Yellow leaves with green veins may indicate chlorosis which can be treated by adding iron chelates to the soil. Scale can be a troublesome insect pest. Aphids, planthoppers, and spider mites may also cause problems.

Compare this plant to: Camellia japonica

6-10 ft.
Alternate, simple, lustrous, dark green leaves; 1.5-3 in. long
2-3 in. single or double white, pink or red fragrant flowers from September to December
Sun to partial shade; prefers acidic, moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter
Upright, densely branched shrub; pyramidal, to oval shape
5-7 ft.
Growth Rate:
cpp, foundation, small tree, ncemgva2018, showy flowers, fall color, deer resistant, play, playground, hedge, fragrant, container, salt tolerant, accent, winter interest, children’s garden, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 1456

Camellia sasanqua Flower
urasimaru, CC BY-NC-2.0
Camellia sasanqua Camellia sasanqua
8Mitsu, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Camellia sasanqua, Yuletide Whole plant
J Karie Nousiainen, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Camellia sasanqua Stamens
James Gaither, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Camellia sasanqua Camellia sasanqua - Leaf and Flower
Tatsuo_Iwata, CC-BY-SA-2.0