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Darrell Blackwelder: Camellias are beginning to show their beautiful bloom colors

Sasanqua camellias (camellia sasanqua) are beginning to show their beautiful bloom colors throughout the county. Sasanqua-type camellias bloom in the fall while the larger bloomed camellia japonica species bloom in early spring. Sasanqua blooms are smaller and less showy than japonica-type camellias but are generally more reliable with a showcase of blooms peaking late October. The shrub is also more tolerant of sun and cold temperatures than the camellia japonica species. These multipurpose shrubs can be utilized as a colorful hedge row or they can be located in the landscape as specimen plants often pruned as tree-formed specimens.

Sasanqua Camellia bloom

Sasanquas have glossy, turgid dark-green leaves with an array of bloom color variations ranging from bright white to deep pinks. The shrubs are not immune to insects or disease problems, but generally do well in our area.

Camellias are acid-loving plants intolerant of alkaline soils, with nutritional requirements similar to azaleas, rhododendron and other acid-loving plants.  Specialty type azalea/camellia fertilizers are readily available local garden shops and retail outlets. Slow-release fertilizers work well because they seldom burn plants when properly applied.

Fertilizers to promote growth and bloom should be applied in the spring with split applications. Never apply lime around camellia sasanquas or other acid-loving plants. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/camellia-sasanqua/ for more detailed information on camellia sasanquas.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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