There are numerous species of Camellia (about 250) but the Camellia types commonly grown as landscape shrubs are Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica, and hybrids of these.
Camellia sasanqua is one of the loveliest fall flowers, graceful in form, tender in color and pleasing in fragrance. As summer fades and the leaves begin to turn, this camellia opens, with aplomb, the camellia season. Depending on the selection and where you live, sasanqua Camellias can bloom anytime from late summer through fall and into winter.
- The flowers, mostly single or semi-double, are not quite as large and showy as those of Camellia japonica, but they are born in such profusion that a camellia sasanqua in full bloom becomes one of the glories of the fall garden. Never bigger than 3-4 in. (7-10 cm), the scented blooms enjoy fluted, ruffled petals and are usually adorned with a central burst of bright golden-yellow stamens. Their colors range from white to shell pink to rose to cherry red. Each flower only lasts a couple of days before it drops its petals which makes them ill-suited for cutting.
- The evergreen foliage of Camellia sasanqua is equally beautiful, with many cultivars emerging coppery-bronze and maturing to glossy, deep green. Half the size of the leaves of Camellia japonica, the leaves of sasanqua camellias are however less coarse.
- The elegant and open habit of Camellia sasanqua allows them to blend beautifully with other shrubs, without dominating the way the larger leaved, denser growing Camellia Japonica do.
- Faster growing than Camellia japonica, this broadleaved, evergreen shrub may grow from 18 in. (45 cm) up to 12 feet (360 cm).
- A part shade lover, Camellia sasanqua is best grown in consistently moist, acidic, organically rich, well-drained soils. Apply a root mulch (leaves or shredded bark) and provide a site sheltered from cold, dry winds as buds and flowers may be damaged by cold winds. Protect from early morning sun and from direct hot summer afternoon sun. Older camellia plants can thrive in full sun when they are mature enough to have their roots shaded by a dense canopy of leaves. Camellia sasanqua shrubs are more sun tolerant than Camellia japonica, but slightly less cold hardy (USDA Hardiness Zone 7 - 9).