CAMELLIA sasanqua 'Northern Lights'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Northern Lights 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 ‘Northern Lights’ has glossy, thin but leathery, elliptical, dark green leaves with toothed margins. The vigorous, medium-sized plants have a broad, upright habit. Large, single white flowers with rose edges and flecks and gold stamens appear in the leaf axils from fall to midwinter. What these blooms lack in size compared to common camellias, they make up for in number. 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 notoriously slow-growing, shallow rooted plants benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch 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 hardier than common camellias, sasanquas work best in locations where temperatures don’t stay well below freezing for any length of time. Use Camellia sasanqua ‘Northern Lights’ in shrub borders, containers, hedges, and foundation plantings.