JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
CAMELLIA sasanqua 'Pink Snow'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Pink Snow 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 ‘Pink Snow’ has glossy, thin but leathery, elliptical, dark green leaves with toothed margins. This small to medium shrub is upright, open, and slightly rounded in habit. Small, semi-double, light-pink flowers with numerous gold stamens appear early in the season, 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 notoriously slow-growing, shallow-rooted shrubs 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 ‘Pink Snow’ in hedges or mixed borders or as a featured specimen. It also makes a good container plant.