The camellia sasanqua plant, also known as autumn camellia, is a fall-flowering evergreen shrub valued for its versatility in the garden. The shrub is widely used in landscaping around the world, although it has not become as popular as its cousin, camellia japonica. Camellia sasanqua is slightly smaller than other varieties, but it provides color and interest to the garden when other plants have long ceased to bloom.
Camellia sasanqua can reach up to 12 feet in height and live for more than 500 years if given the proper care. It forms broad, dark green leaves that reach about 2 inches in length. Camellia sasanqua flowers during fall and early winter. Each flower is 2 to 4 inches in diameter and can be either single, semi-double or double petal, depending on the cultivar. The flowers appear in varying shades of white, pink and red.
Camellia sasanqua is native to China and Japan and is typically found growing in wooded areas, especially the evergreen coastal forests of southern Japan. The plant is also commonly found in higher elevations and can grow in altitudes of up to 900 meters. Camellia sasanqua is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 through 9, though new cultivars are more cold-resistant and can be grown in colder regions.
Camellia sasanqua is a commonly used landscape shrub and is ideal as a barrier, hedge or border shrub. It is often showcased alone as an ornamental specimen shrub. The plant is sometimes used as ground cover, especially on hillsides where mowing is difficult. Camellia sasanqua plants are also grown in containers, particularly in cooler climates.
Camellia sasanqua requires partial shade throughout the day. The plant can grow in full sunlight but will require more-frequent watering. Sasanqua needs water once every four days for the first month of growth and then once per week for the remainder of its life. Fertilizing once every three months using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer will provide the nutrients necessary for proper growth.
There are several cultivars of camellia sasanqua available, including Yuletide, Jean May and Setsugekka. Yuletide varieties have dark green foliage and form single red flowers. The Jean May cultivar produces large, pink, semi-double and double flowers. Setsugekka forms white semi-double and double flowers with large, ruffled petals.