CAMELLIA sasanqua 'Bert Jones'
Plant Common Name
Bert Jones Sasanqua, Camellia, Sasanqua
Warm days, cool nights - fall and it’s time to look for the colorful blooming jewels of Camellia sasanqua. These evergreen shrubs don’t get as much attention as their more popular cousin, the large-flowered common Japanese camellia, but they should. Native to Japan, sasanquas, as they are known to garden enthusiasts, have a long history of use for tea, oil and ornament.
The cultivar ‘Bert Jones’ has glossy, thin but leathery, elliptical, dark green leaves with toothed margins which are held on thin stems alternately. The plants have a tall, upright form and dark pink, semi-double and full double blooms with a silvery cast and many gold stamens. The small to medium flowers are produced in the leaf axils (joint between leaf and branch), have waxy petals and appear from fall to mid winter. What these blooms lack in size compared to common camellias, they make up for in numbers. It is not uncommon to see plants covered in blooms with many buds yet to open.
Sasanquas prefer partial shade, but estabilshed, well-watered plants will tolerate full sun. The soil should be moist, acidic and have ample drainage. These plants are notoriously slow-growing, slow to establish and shallow rooted; a thick layer of organic mulch is a good practice to protect the roots. Regular irrigation when dry and applications of fertilizer promote good growth and flowering. Prune after flowering and just before growth starts in the spring, but only lightly, as they do not recover well from harsh pruning.
Cold sensitive, but more tolerant than common camellias, sasanquas are best in areas where temperatures don’t stay well below freezing for any length of time. Use Camellia sasanqua ‘Bert Jones’ as a hedge, accent, specimen, or container plant.