JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
CAMELLIA sasanqua 'Leslie Ann'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Leslie Ann Sasanqua, 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 ‘Leslie Ann’ has glossy, thin but leathery, elliptical, dark green leaves with toothed margins. The plants have a dense, upright habit and are of medium height. The flowers are white with dark rose to magenta edges and are semi-double with 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 midwinter. 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 established, well watered specimens will tolerate full sun. The soil should be moist, acidic and well-drained. 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 work best in locations where temperatures don’t stay well below freezing for any length of time. Use Camellia sasanqua ‘Leslie Ann’ in mixed borders, hedges, containers, and foundation plantings.