When most of the garden is resting, camellias burst onto the scene with elegant, perfectly-formed blossoms. Sasanqua camellias are the first to bloom, and November and December are the best months to select and plant, since you’ll be able to see them in action.
The small scale of sasanquas make them ideal for today’s gardens. None gets too large. They have smaller leaves and flowers than Japanese camellias and a variety of shrub forms. Some are narrow and upright, some low and spreading and others form rounded shrubs. The variety of forms makes them useful for a variety of spaces. They’re best in partial shade but older shrubs can tolerate considerable sun. Give them well-amended, well-draining soil.
Just as lovely as their romantic blossoms is their ease of care. A well-established shrub is tough and durable. Pests and diseases rarely bother camellias and you need to prune only to shape. The glossy, dark green foliage is gorgeous year-round. Even the early forming flower buds create interest in late summer and fall.
While they’re not often used as such, camellias make wonderful cut flowers. A single bloom (or several) floating in a low bowl will provide close-up pleasure. But a bouquet of branches loaded with blossoms is sensational. The long-lasting foliage can be used to complement flowers of all kinds all year long.
Did you know?
Espalier is an ancient and artistic practice of training trees, shrubs and woody vines by pruning and tying their branches to a frame, fence, trellis or flat against a wall. Used in France for centuries, especially with pear and apples trees, this technique is ideal for small garden, where it makes it possible to fit a large camellia into a small space. Sasanqua camellias are the plant of choice for espaliers.