The Camellia sasanqua, one of the favorite plants of the South and milder areas of the country, is prized for its fall bloom, graceful habit, and lovely shades of white, pink, rose and red. These evergreens have glossy dark green leaves smaller than those of Camellia japonica giving them a more refined appearance. The flowers also may be slightly smaller than C. japonica (which bloom in the spring), but they make up for it in great profusion over a long period. One of the differences between C. sasanqua and C. japonica is that petals fall off individually on sasanquas whereas the entire flower falls at once on the japonicas. They have many uses including screens, hedges, foundation plantings, specimens, espaliers and containers. Camellia sasanquas should be part of every fall garden where they can be grown. Zones 7-9.
New cultivars have been developed thanks to the breeding program of Dr. William Ackerman of the U.S. National Arboretum to increase cold hardiness. If you live in Zone 6, look for the "Winter's" series of cold-hardy hybrids at your local nursery such as 'Winter's Beauty,' pink; 'Winter's Interlude,' lavender-pink; or 'Winter's Snowman,' white; and others.
'Bonanza' is one of the deepest red Camellia sasanquas with semi-double peony shape blooms in a more compact 4-5' size.
'Cleopatra’ is a lovely soft pink single to semi-double with slightly ruffled petals and very dark green glossy leaves. It grows well in sunny or semi-shady locations, and will reach at height of 6-10’ at maturity.
C. x vernalis ‘Egao Corkscrew.’ Large pink blooms on a plant with a unique contorted branch pattern
'Hana Jiman' is one of my favorites. The name means 'boastful flower' and one can see why--not only are the semi-double blooms large, but they are dramatic with a starburst of yellow stamens--and they are fragrant to boot! They open wide and flat with a slightly crepey texture. The inner petals are white tinged with pink while the outer ones are a deeper pink at the edges.
Camellia x hiemalis October Magic® ‘Inspiration™’ has gorgeous double white flowers with petals edged in magenta. C x hiemalis is a hybrid between C. sasanqua and C. japonica with the smaller leaves, denser growth habit, fall bloom, and more heat tolerance of C. sasanqua, and the vigor and increased cold tolerance of C. japonica. Zones 7-9. Part of the Southern Living Plant Collection, the October Magic® Series has many other selections in white, pink, rose, and red.
'Jean May' is a lovely double soft shell pink with ruffled petals. It will become 10' x 6' at maturity.
C. x hiemalis ‘Kanjiro’ is an outstanding Japanese cultivar in a amazing bright pink that really shines in the garden. The semi-double flowers open flat showing off the golden boss of stamens and the center of each petal is a paler pink. There is also a new one called ‘Kanjiro Pink’ that is light pink all over and a beauty, too.
'Maiden's Blush' blush pink single form. There is a fabulous double hedge of these backing the spectacular long perennial border at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, N.C.
'Midnight Lover' is a deep seductive red with a hint of blue in it--deeper than 'Yuletide.' Semi-double velvety ruffled petals with a center of golden stamens adds to the allure. This one at Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Georgia.
'Mine-no-yuki' means 'Snow-on-the-Mountain' in Japanese and is very generous with its double white blooms. They are lovely in flower and when the blooms shatter to blanket the ground like snow. The picture is from an old shrub at the State Botanical Garden in Athens, GA which has grown tall in a very shady situation. Normally these shrubs are wide spreaders of about 3-5' with equal height. They are nice to espalier. Sometimes you will see them sold as 'White Doves.'
'Pink Snow' has charming blooms that look like pink sugar icing roses and open full and fluffy. A very vigorous grower and prolific bloomer that can reach 15' if not kept in check.
‘Setsugekka' has large, fragrant, semi-double ruffled white flowers with sometimes a touch of pink on the edges and golden stamens. Can reach a size of 8- 10' tall and wide at maturity.
C. x hiemalis ‘Shibori-egao,' "Smiling Face," is a semi-double white with pink
variegation. A medium grower at 6-10', it is a hybrid cross probably between C. sasanqua and C. japonica.
'Shishi Gashira' has rose pink flowers often paler pink in the middle of each petal. It is a smaller cultivar growing to a manageable 4' x 6' size.
'Showa-no-sakae' has beautiful, large pink, peony-type flowers on a shrub that can get 5-6.' It is a seedling of Shishi Gashira above.
'Sparkling Burgundy' is a C. sasanqua x C. hiemalis hybrid with deep rose peony form flowers with a hint of lavender. 8-15 w. x 6-10' h.
C. x hiemalis 'Yuletide' has single red flowers with yellow centers. It grows is an upright manner making it ideal for accents or containers. Eventually will reach 8-10' with equal spread.
Plant of the Month
Camellia x vernalis 'Egao Corkscrew'
Updated new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map 2023.