Camellias are large, flowering perennial shrubs. Camellia sasanqua is a variety of camellia that blooms in the fall, between September and December. For that reason, this plant is often called the "Christmas camellia". Camellia sasanqua can grow up to 12 feet tall and wide, and has white, pink or red single flowers. The beautiful flowers are also highly fragrant, according to Marjan Kluepfel, a horticulturist at Clemson University. Care of the Camellia sasanqua requires careful attention to the planting site.
Camellias in general prefer a temperate climate, with mild winters and warm, but not very hot, summers. They grow well in humid conditions and do not tolerate freezing temperatures very well, although some cultivars are more cold hardy than others. Camellia sasanqua is one that is slightly more cold hardy than many other varieties, including the spring-blooming Camellia japonica (Japanese camellia). Camilla sasanqua can be grown outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 7 through 9.
Camellia sasanqua should be planted in a location where it will be exposed to morning sunlight followed by afternoon shade. The leaves of the plant are sometimes scorched by direct afternoon sunlight, and morning sunlight will dry the dew from the leaves quickly, reducing the instances of fungal growth which can plague this shrub.
Camellia sasanqua has delicate blooms and leaves. As such, it needs to be planted in a location where it will receive shelter from drying winds, shows Marjan Kluepfel. This slow-growing shrub has shallow roots, which also means that it will compete for water with other nearby plants and even weeds. In addition, standing water in the soil can quickly lead to root rot. Plant Camellia sasanqua in a location where it will not be competing with other plants and will be sheltered from heavy winds, such as near the wall of a house.
Water your Camellia sasanqua deeply and thoroughly. These plants can tolerate periods of drought, but benefit from evenly moist soil. A drip hose buried underneath a layer of mulch is an excellent way to water camellias. Water the shrub at least twice a week during the growing period if rainfall is not present, and reduce the watering frequency by half during the shrub's dormant stage (January through March).
Fertilizing and Pruning
Fertilizing Camellia sasanqua is not necessary for hardy growth, according to the United States National Arboretum, but a light application of slightly acidic fertilizer in the spring can benefit these plants. Pruning is only necessary to remove dead or broken branches, as the shrubs naturally develop a pleasingly rounded shape. Prune just after blooming, when the buds are spent and before the new buds begin to develop.
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