JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
CAMELLIA sasanqua 'Sparkling Burgundy'
Plant Common Name
Camellia, Sasanqua , Sparkling Burgundy 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 ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ has glossy, thin but leathery, elliptical, dark green leaves with toothed margins. The tall plants have an upright, irregular habit. The small, double flowers are ruby-red with a lavender sheen, and have gold stamens scattered among the petals. The flowers appear very 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 will tolerate full sun once established and are well watered. 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, they do not recover well from harsh pruning.
Cold sensitive, but more tolerant than common camellias, use them in locations where temperatures don’t stay well below freezing for any length of time. Use Camellia sasanqua ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ as a hedge, accent, screening, in containers or pruned to standard tree form for specimen planting.