Camellia (Camellia sasanqua) is a gorgeous shrub covered in long-lasting blooms that will help get you through the worst of the winter doldrums. This Camellia's white, pink, or red blossoms stand out in high contrast against glossy, dark green foliage.
Sometimes referred to as "Christmas Camellias," the sasanqua varieties of Camellia are native to the coastal forests of southern Japan. The Japanese use the leaves of sasanqua to make tea, and the seeds are pressed into tea seed oil for use as a lubricant and in cooking and cosmetics. It was introduced by Dutch traders into Europe in 1869.
This Camellia is hardy to zones 7-10, so may not thrive in the colder parts of our Mid-Atlantic region or may require some extra protection to get it through in very cold winters. Try it as a container plant, as a hedge, or esapliered against a brick wall.
Camellias should be lightly fertilized and pruned sparingly, only as needed. Once established, they are fairly low-maintenance. They typically only need to be watered during dry spells.
My personal favorite Camellia sasanqua is 'Yuletide'. There is a notable one planted on the grounds of the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, that looks terrific each year around Christmas.
'Winter's Charm' is another Camellia sasanqua favorite. It was bred by the late Dr. William L. Ackerman, author of Growing Camellias in Cold Climates.
For more information about growing Camellia's locally, visit the Camellia Society of the Potomac Valley’s web site at http://cspv.org/.
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