Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: October 30, 2008

Yuletide Camellia
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

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Species Native Range: China & Japan
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-10
Mature Size: 8-10+ feet tall and wide
Exposure: Light to partial shade
Soil: Loose, organic, reliably moist but well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Good to excellent
Ease of Culture: Easy
Classification: Red, Single Flower, Mid-season

I love camellias, all camellias. There are no other shrubs that bloom in the fall and winter with such large flowers in a variety of colors. Yuletide camellia named for its holiday season show has red, single flowers with bright yellow stamens that are 3 inches across. Although the name would imply a bloom season closer to Christmas, in my garden blooming usually begins in early to mid November.

The shrub itself is quite tolerant of cold weather (single digit temps) but the flowers can be damaged if the buds are opening and temperatures fall into the mid teens. These temperatures won't harm the shrub's foliage. Fortunately, Yuletide has usually finished blooming by the time the worst of the winter weather arrives.

Camellias prefer to grow in light to partial shade and sasanquas can handle a bit more sun than their japonica cousins. They will tolerate morning to noon sun but need to be in the shade by afternoon. The soil should be high in organic matter, slightly acidic and well-drained. They are surprisingly drought tolerant once established when planted in the correct soil with mulch.

Use Yuletide camellias as specimens or grouped at the edge of a woodland/shade garden or near a sitting area as their bloom season occurs when it's still pleasant to be outdoors. They can also be maintained in large containers. They make excellent screens for shade. Even when not in bloom, the shiny deep evergreen leaves provide an attractive backdrop for other plants during the growing season. Good companion plants include hydrangeas, azaleas, hostas, ferns, hellebores, etc.

Be sure to visit the camellia gardens at the headquarters of the American Camellia Society in Fort Valley, GA. The peak time to view the blooming sasanquas will be from October through Decemeber and the japonicas from January through March.


Yuletide camellia is widely available from many retail nurseries.

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