Camellia sasanquas in Bloom

Patience has paid off and after a year of waiting, the Camellia sasanqua 'Maiden's Blush' shrubs that I planted last fall are in bloom! The 8 foot tall hedge is lightly festooned with pale pink, single petaled flowers. Judging by all the buds yet to bloom, it promises to be a lovely sight over the next few weeks.

Camellia sasanqua is one of my favorite shrubs. In spite of its delicate reputation it is a real workhorse in the garden. Its glossy, dark green leaves persist throughout the year, making it an ideal backdrop plant until fall, when it takes center stage, transforming into an eye-catching focal point as the flowers appear.

Not too long ago it would have been rare to see camellias north of the state of Virginia. But thanks to the efforts of Dr. William Ackerman and the National Arboretum, gardeners in the North can also appreciate the beauty of this Southern belle.

Allen Clipping Camellia Blooms The camellias Dr. Ackerman developed can take temperatures down to -10 degrees F, which is a huge improvement over the minimum low of 10 degrees F that most Camellia sasanquas can endure. In fact, some varieties of the Ackerman hybrids can even grow in zone 5, which can experience temperatures of -15 to -20 degrees! For the greatest cold tolerance Dr. Ackerman recommends 'Winter's Rose', 'Winter's Beauty' and 'Winter's Waterlily'. Like Camellia sasanqua, these varieties also bloom in the fall.

Camellia Maiden's BlushTo further ensure a successful experience when growing camellias in colder climates, plant them in a sheltered area that receives bright but filtered light. They prefer naturally acidic soils, but you can also apply fertilizer developed especially for camellias. A 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch will help keep the roots from freezing, just be sure to keep the mulch away from the trunk of the shrub.

Now if you live in the Deep South, you don't have to feel left out because Dr. Ackerman has been working on heat tolerant camellias as well! Try the varieties 'Sun Worshiper' or 'Two Marthas' in your region.

Here is a short list of cold hardy camellias.

  • Camellia 'Polar Ice' - white blooms, anemone form, bloom time Nov.-Dec., slow to moderate growing, 6' tall.
  • Camellia 'Snow Flurry' - white blooms, peony form, bloom time Oct.-Nov., moderately vigorous, 7' tall.
  • Camellia 'Winter's Charm' - lavender-pink blooms, peony form, bloom time Oct.-Nov., vigorous upright growing, 10' tall.
  • Camellia 'Winter's Interlude' - pink blooms, small anemone form, bloom time Nov.-Dec., moderate growth, 8' tall.
  • Camellia 'Winter's Rose' - shell pink blooms, formal double form, bloom time Oct.-Nov., slow growing, 6 1/2' tall.
  • Camellia 'Winter's Star' - lavender-pinks blooms, single form, bloom time Oct.-Nov., moderate growth, 8' tall.


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Eat more broccoli; plant more camellias!

by Goldberg21 on October 22, 2012 02:28
Camellias are truly an under-used shrub in the modern residential landscape. There are so many different cultivars and bloom times, that this plant genus offers something for everybody! They are evergreen, and bloom, depending on species, from early Autumn to late Spring. They used to be known as the \"Winter Rose\" and I for one have fallen under their spell. Visit the American Camellia Society website to locate a camellia club near you and to learn more about this sturdy garden beauty. Camellias have no thorns and few diseases; and once established, little maintenance is required!

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