Delicate, fragrant flowers to brighten up the darker months
The Japanese Camellia sasanqua is often overlooked but is a charming and robust species that has the unusual qualities of having small, fragrant flowers that open in late autumn, usually in October and November. Like all camellias, they’re ideal for growing in pots but their small leaves and bushy habit make them suitable as garden shrubs and even hedges. Many have attractive, bronzed young foliage and the flowers open over several months. Their glossy leaves make them attractive plants for borders throughout the year. These camellias prefer a sheltered spot and may struggle in very cold, exposed areas but usually thrive in urban gardens. But, unlike most camellias, they prefer a sunny site and are the best camellias for patio pots. They’re also less fussy about very acid soils and will succeed in neutral soils. Most are upright at first and light pruning or pinching out the shoot tips in early spring will keep the plants neat and compact. Give plants in the border a mulch in spring and a dressing of fertiliser suitable for azaleas and rhododendron, and feed potted plants with a soluble acid plant food once a week from April to September.
FACT: Leaves of Camellia sasanqua can be used for making tea and its seeds produce an oil used in hair tonics and for lighting.