Camellias are not a shrub to shrug at. They produce absolutely gorgeous flowers that pop with color in front of their dark, glossy foliage. How incredible camellias are is not up for debate: these long-blooming flowers provide beauty and elegance to every landscape they adorn. What is up for debate is which camellia species, of the hundreds to choose from, reigns supreme.
My absolute favorite? Camellia sasanqua. This is the hardiest camellia variety, and the one that produces some of the most stunning blooms. Following the instructions in this guide, you can easily plant camellia sasanqua in your garden or yard. They are hardy plants, but there are some specific growing instructions to note in this guide so that your camellias can truly thrive.
What You Will Need
- Camellia Sasanqua Plant
- Common Gardening Tools
Where is the Best Place to Plant a Camellia?
Camellias grow best in the southern United States in the “camellia belt.” They thrive in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 through 9. However, some specific cultivars can grow in the colder zone 6, and in the hotter zone 10, with special attention paid to them.
Where in Your Yard Should You Plant Camellias?
Camellias like it not too hot, not too cold. They thrive in shaded parts of your lawn that are exposed to, at most, a few hours of direct sunlight during the day. Plant them in well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5.
How Big do Sasanqua Camellias Grow?
How large your camellias grow will mostly depend on which variety they are and how you prune them. On average, sasanqua camellias grow to heights between 6-10 feet, spreading 5 to 7 feet. They grow quickly to these heights, but with frequent prunings you can keep them on the smaller side.
What is the Best Time to Plant Camellias?
When you can plant your sasanqua camellias depends on where you live. In the warmer zones, 8-10 you can plant your camellias in the fall, winter, or spring, while in the colder zones 7 and 6 it is better to plant them in the spring when the weather begins to warm. This will give the shrubs time to establish a root system before cold weather hits.
What is the Difference Between Camellia Japonica and Camellia Sasanqua?
Camellia sasanqua and camellia japonica are the two most common species of camellias to grow. They both produce beautiful blooms and have notable hardiness. However, sasanqua camellias are tougher than japonicas, having more of a capability to tolerate drought and resist diseases. Japonicas, on the other hand, grow bigger bushes and blossoms. Japonica bushes grow to be a couple of feet taller than sasanqua bushes, their flowers are a couple of inches longer in diameter, and naturally so are their petals.
The easiest way to tell the two species apart is by noting that camellia japonica shrubs bloom in the spring while camellia sasanqua shrubs bloom in the fall. Otherwise, the two camellia species are very similar, and are both great options for your garden!
5 Varieties of Sasanqua Camellias
Not looking to spend your afternoon perusing all 3000 varieties of camellias to decide which you want to grow? Take my advice. Here are my 5 favorite camellia sasanqua plants that you can grow at home.
This classic and gorgeous camellia will set your heart ablaze with its fiery scarlet petals surrounding a golden center. Providing some heat in the cold, this camellia only blossoms in the winter. It can be up to 10 feet tall and is a hardy grower so it requires regular pruning to monitor its size and shape.
This elegant camellia has wavy white petals that sprout from the bright yellow stamens at their center. This pristine flower emits a calming fragrance, and grows well along walls and fences. Be wary of keeping it in full sun, though, because it’s extremely sensitive to heat.
These flowers’ dark pinkish-red petals and bright yellow centers provide a welcomed pop of color that will turn heads. This exciting camellia is low-maintenance and grows best as bushes.
The bright-red fluted blooms of this short camellia will catch passerby’s eyes, while its beautiful aroma draws them in. It only grows to be about 6 feet tall, but can spread horizontally up to 8 feet.
This camellia will be the king of your garden with its bright red and pink petals and golden center. Treat your crimson king like a king and it will supply you with tons of gorgeous flowers—almost 12 vertical feet of them!
How to Grow a Camellia Sasanqua Tree
Step One: Plant Your Camellia Sasanquas
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as your camellia’s root ball, and just deep enough to cover it. Work in several inches of organic matter to the soil while digging. Then, fill the bottom of the hole with 2 inches of soil. Pack it down.
Place the root ball in the very center of the hole. The top of it should be slightly above the soil. Fill in the hole and add soil to the top of the root ball, gently covering the sides of it with sloping soil so that none of the roots are exposed. However, leave the very top of the root ball exposed.
Pro Tip: Don’t plant it near plants that will compete with it for nutrients, especially not near shallow-rooted plants.
Step Two: Water Your Camellias
Water thoroughly right after planting. Your young camellia will require frequent watering. As it matures, and its root system develops downwards, it will need less. Eventually, a few years down the road, you will barely have to supply it with supplementary water.
Make sure to soak your plant once a week during dry weather.
Step Three: Fertilize Your Camellias
Do not, do not, do not, overfertilize your camellias. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This is one such time. Too much fertilizer will lead to problems in your plant. However, it is a good idea to provide them with SOME fertilizer.
Fertilize your plants in the spring after their flowers drop and in midsummer when their growth becomes sluggish. Use a general balanced fertilizer for acid-loving plants or a fertilizer specifically meant for camellias.
Pro Tip: For best results, apply the fertilizer along the plant’s drip line.
Step Four: Prune Your Camellias
Sasanquas flower in the fall, so they should be pruned in early spring once their blooms fade. Remove dead and weak wood and thin out growth where it is too dense, keeping in mind that flowers need room to open properly.
Shorten lower branches to ensure that there is more horizontal growth and cut back top branches to make lanky shrubs bushier. When camellias get older you can prune them more to control their size and rejuvenate them.
Pro Tip: Cut right above where the previous year’s growth ended to force new buds to blossom.
Step Five: Final Care Tips
How do you care for a camellia sasanqua? By watering, pruning, fertilizing, mulching, and protecting it. Mulch around your camellia when first planted, applying a 1-inch layer around the root ball. After your initial mulching, apply mulch to the plant on an annual basis. This will discourage weeds and help the soil maintain moisture. Keep your camellias healthy to prevent diseases and problems.
If a problem develops, you can ward off pests with organic pesticides and insecticides. If your plant does contract a disease, remove the infected branches, flowers, and leaves immediately.
Alternative Method: Camellias in Containers
Camellias make awesome container plants! This is a great option for people who don’t have the ideal climate for growing camellias, or who don’t have a garden or landscape that can host their camellias. Make sure if you growing camellias in containers that you grow a smaller variety so it doesn’t overwhelm and outgrow the container.
That being said, the container that you plant your camellias in should be sizable, surpassing a diameter of 14 inches. Fill the container with a potting mix that is at least 50% organic materials so that your camellias still receive natural, necessary nutrients. The soil added to the container should be loose and there should be drainage holes on the container’s bottom so there is no danger of root rot. Before placing your root ball in the container’s soil wash it off and rough it up a bit so the roots have an easier time penetrating the soil. Otherwise, you can use the same planting and growing tips listed below for your container camellias.
Now you know everything you need to know to successfully grow a sasanqua camellia tree. This gorgeous plant is an incredible addition to any garden or yard. It will supply you with gorgeous blooms, incredible aromas, and an elegant atmosphere for years to come. Some camellias live to be over a hundred years old.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did, be sure to share, and comment below with thoughts or questions.