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Camellia sasanqua ‘White Doves’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)
Camellia sasanqua ‘White Doves’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)

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Zone
Zones 4-9, 12, 14-24, 26-31
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Camellia sasanqua

Theaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

CAMELLIA

Camellias grow over a wider latitude range along the West Coast than anywhere else. Typically loaded with white, pink, red, or variegated blooms during the cool season, many of these robust shrubs flower heavily when other bloom is scarce. Native to southern and eastern Asia, they are unscented except as noted.

Big C. japonica varieties are the most popular, with fall- and winter-flowering C. sasanqua varieties coming in second. All are classic understory shrubs that thrive in filtered shade. They also grow well in pots.

There are six camellia forms: Anemone, formal double, peony, rose-form double, single, and semidouble.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)

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Camellia sasanqua

Useful broadleafed evergreens for espaliers, groundcovers, informal hedges, screening, containers, and bonsai. Plants vary in form from spreading and vinelike to upright and densely bushy; sizes range from 1 1/2 ft. high and 6 ft. wide to 12 ft. tall and wide. Leaves are dark green, shiny, 1 1/2–3 1/2 in. long, a third as wide. Flowers, heavily produced in autumn and early winter, are short lived, rather flimsy, but so numerous that plants make a show for months. Some are lightly fragrant.

Most sasanquas tolerate much sun, and some will thrive in full hot sun with the right soil and regular water. The sasanquas are hardy in camellia areas of Pacific Northwest, but flowers are too often damaged by fall and winter rains and frost to call them successful.

‘Apple Blossom’: Single white flowers blushed with pink, from pink buds. Upright, somewhat leggy plant.

‘Bonanza’: Blooms early. Scarlet-red semidouble flowers. Low-growing, spreading plant.

‘Jean May’: Double, shell-pink flowers. Compact, upright grower with glossy foliage.

‘Kanjiro’: Large semidouble flowers of rose-pink shading to rose-red at petal edges. Erect growth habit.

‘Setsugekka’: Large, white semidouble flowers with ruffled petals. Blossoms have substance; cut sprays hold well in water. Upright and rather bushy shrub.

‘White Doves’: Large, full semidouble to peony-form flower. Drops many buds. Spreading, willowy growth makes it effective as an espalier.

‘Yuletide’: A profusion of small, single, bright red flowers with yellow anthers appears on this dense, compact, upright plant as early as November, as late as early spring.

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