Camellias begin their seasonal ­display this month

Camellias begin their seasonal ­display this month

Camellias begin their seasonal ­display this month
Yuletide’ camellias will thrive in partial sun with moderate watering and annual fertilizing.

Nicole Hackett, Garden GirlCLAYTON, CA (Dec. 12, 2022) — December is the kickoff of sasanqua camellia season, with the evergreen shrubs providing a lovely, winter flower display starting this month and blossoming through February.

They have dark green, medium-sized leaves and familiar jewel tone colors. Depending on the selection, your camellia may have a single flower style, like the popular Yuletide (red with yellow center) or Kanjiro (rosy red with yellow center). Semi-double varieties to consider would be either of the new Sunset Collection selections: October Magic Ruby (dark burgundy) or October Magic Dawn (blush pink). Silver Dollar is a pure white, medium size peony flower style.

Sasanqua camellias are very easy to grow and one of the most sun-tolerant, shade-loving shrubs available. They can thrive in full morning sun or half a day of afternoon sun exposure, even during our summers. Camellias like regular water.

Take care when planting any camellia. Aggressively work the roots loose, soaking in water if need be. You want the plant’s roots to look like they were never in a pot.

Lots of folks make mistakes when installing plants by not spreading out the roots properly. You won’t hurt your camellia by roughing up the roots; rather you’ll do more harm to your installations by not working the roots apart.

If you already have sasanqua camellias in your landscape, caring for them is easy. Prune after flower, at will, wherever needed to achieve the shape you desire. If your plant appears leggy, cut back stretching branches for a more upright appearance. Always remove dead wood.

Fertilize all camellias now with a formula that will feed the flower but not encourage new leaves. Look for a formula where the labels first number in the series of three is smaller than the second and third. For example, 0-10-10, 2-10-10 or 3-20-20. If you can’t find any of these formulas, just get one that is close – as long as the first number is smaller than the second. If the leaves on your camellias are light green or yellow, apply a dose of iron as well. Don’t use more fertilizer than recommended.

Starting in March, begin feeding camellias with an acid fertilizer, following the package instructions.

Sasanqua camellia shrubs make great additions when planted along a fence line or against a blank wall, trained as an espalier. Shop for camellias while in bloom so you can see all the glorious colors.

Companion plants to consider are azaleas, pieris, hydrangea and rhododendron. Perennials to be used as under-plantings could be hellebores, Japanese anemone, brunnera and hosta.

You can contact Nicole with ­questions or comments by email at

Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at