Winter isn’t usually known for beautiful shrubs and hedges outside of evergreens. For example, some of the flowering varieties don’t provide people with blooms until the spring! However, Camellias are often overlooked as an evergreen shrub, especially since they bloom during the winter.
Camellias in History
Camellias originated in Asia, but hundreds of varieties and hybrids exist. For instance, some Camellias make tea and others offer ornamental purposes. Also, their thick, glossy leaves and beautiful large blooms are desired in gardens for their beauty. Furthermore, Camellias grew and developed for centuries before they made it to Europe.
Lord Petre was the first gardener to bring Camellias to England, with single red and single white varieties that hit the market for commerce in 1739. And in 1797, Camellias were taken to America to attract people to the Elysian Fields in New Jersey. Varieties were quickly developed and grown in nurseries soon after.
But with hundreds of different varieties and cultivars, how do people know which Camellias to place in their gardens?
Top Camellia Varieties
For starters, it’s important to know that there are two popular cultivars with noticeable differences: the Sasanqua and Japonica. Sasanquas generally have smaller blooms and leaves. Their leaves tend to be about 2 inches long, and their blooms are usually 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Sasanquas also range in height from 2 to 12 feet tall.
In contrast, Japonica Camellias can grow between 6 to 25 feet tall and have larger blooms and leaves. Japonica leaves are usually about 4 inches wide, and the blooms are about 5 inches wide. A major difference between Sasanqua and Japonica varieties is that Japonicas tend to have double blooms.
Double blooms mean the blossoms have extra petals and have a fuller look, similar to carnations and Double Knock Out Roses. Also, Japonicas are more cold hardy and offer a lot of colorful blooms, ranging from shades of whites to reds and pinks.
The Yuletide Camellia is a Sasanqua variety offering bright and cheery red blooms all winter. Best of all, its single blossoms emerge in September and last through January. They’ll greet your holiday guests with their warm colors that stand out against the barren winter landscape. Yuletide Camellias grow to 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide.
Debutante Camellias are a Japonica variety, filling your landscape with large, pale pink blooms. And the double blooms grow to about 4 inches! The blooms start to appear towards the end of winter for a fresh, spring clean feel. So, this variety is an excellent option for a privacy hedge. They’ll grow to about 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Plant them about 5 feet apart, and they’ll grow together to form a dense privacy screen to block out your neighbors.
Cold Hardy Tea Plant
You may not think of tea when you think of the classic and charming blooms that Camellias provide. But the Cold Hardy Tea Plant or Camellia Sinensis is one of the many Camellia tea varieties. If you love tea, then this shrub is a must! The leaves can be used for white, black, and green tea.
Plus, they’re hassle-free. Cold Hardy Tea Plants reach up between 10 to 15 feet tall and grow 10 to 15 feet wide. However, they also grow in a container indoors.
Join the Camellia Club
Camellias are a classic flowering shrub that have been used for centuries as hedges and ornamental shrubs. Their blooms are valued in many cultures around the world for their unique beauty and winter survival. Use them to brighten up your winter, make a privacy hedge, or to even grow your own tea!