photo by Anne

Camellia blossom

If you’re puzzled to see camellias blooming at this time of year, allow me to introduce you to the Sasanqua camellia. This species of camellia blooms during fall and winter, instead of the traditional spring when other camellias are in bloom. Sasanqua’s are evergreen shrubs that blend in well during the rest of the year, and then create a “pop” of color when least expected.

I snapped this photo at a local gas station, a place where ( you can imagine) they receive little care or pruning. That’s the great thing about sasanquas-they thrive on neglect and have few pests.

White with yellow center

Flowers may have a yellow center or a center hidden beneath the petals. Petal color can be white, pink, or deep pink to red.

Shrub height ranges from 1′ to about 12′ feet, although most I’ve seen in landscapes grow between 1-3′ tall. Widths range between 4′-12′ wide.

Although the plants at the gas station appear healthy, most garden authorities recommend planting camellias in soil that is slightly acidic. For gardeners with basic soils, this might mean adding fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate. However, I suggest skipping this step and observing the plant. If it thrives and needs no additional help, you’ll save both time and money.

I recently wrote an article about my favorite local nursery that went out of business. With that in mind, please consider purchasing plants like sasanqua camellias from a locally owned plant nursery, which helps support local business and ensures you the best quality plant available. While there, take advantage of the knowledgeable staff. Bring a list of questions you may have.

USDA Zones: 7-9
Height: 1-12′
Width: 4-12′
Sun/Shade: Best in partial shade, but can tolerate full sun if given extra water.
Water Requirements: Once established (after about 1 year) need little water.
Pruning: Little to no pruning needed. Prune for shape after bloom if desired. Remove spent flowers.