Unusual Sasanquas


Yuri Panchul made another in his occasional series of slide-supported presentations to his fellow SFPCS members at the November membership meeting. Those who attended had a real treat; Yuri has an extensive photo collection and a wide knowledge of sasanquas, his specialty. Although he did sometimes refer to a certain cultivar’s parentage, this presentation focused on the look of the flower and the plant’s habit, making the talk very accessible for the home camellia enthusiast.

This report will first detail the camellias by color. If the cultivar is sold by Nuccios, an (N) appears after the plant’s name. (This does not mean necessarily that the plant was developed by the Nuccios, although some were.) Yuri gave some details of the cultivars he likes especially:



French Vanilla (N): very large white, single flowers*

Narumigata (N): single white edged with pink cup-shaped flowers. This plant grows very fast in a columnar form.

Jewel Box: smallest cultivar ; diminutive flower with pink edge and small leaves; grafted onto japonica rootstock at Huntingon Gardens for interesting tufted effect. It is also planted among rocks along a sidewalk. Needs some shade.

Starry Pillar (N): single white with edge of pink like Narumigata only much smaller.


C. grijsii Zhenzhucha (N, in Species), a splendid, easy to grow plant with small leaves and fragrant, fluffy rose-form flowers whose petals hide the stamens. Needs some shade. This plant was developed from Camellia grisjii (N, listed under Species): small single, open and fragrant flowers.

Kira-shiro-kantsubaki: very small double white flowers on compact plant.

Dwarf Shishi White: tiny, semi-double flowers. (Note that “Dwarf Shishi,” below, has similar flowers in bright pink-red


Scented Snow* & ** (listed in Nomenclature as non-retic hybrid): large, very fragrant flowers with many petaloids.


Apparently, old sasanquas in Japan were completely white; researchers have identified some japonica parentage in pink sasanquas dating from some 500 years ago.


Tanya (N): deep pink, drooping flower on a small low-growing plant makes it useful for front of border or as a ground cover.

Slim ‘n Trim (N): abundant flowers on a compact, columnar plant useful in tight spaces.

Rosy Pillar (N): simple, pale pink flowers on tall, compact plant.

Dwarf Shishi: tiny, semi-double, bright pink-red flowers


Enishi: small, rose form flowers, mass-blooming in the right soil.

Camellia punceiflora (N, listed in Species): mass of small pink flowers with clustered petaloids at center; blooms early.


Choji Guruma (N): light pink with deeper color at edges; early flowering. Name means “wheel of anemone” in Japanese.


Yuri noted that a true red sasanqua is very rare, most being more a deep pink shade.


Mieko Tanaka** vibrant red waxy-looking flowers, perhaps better than Yuletide. Plant has large japonica-like leaves but it blooms in October. Needs some shade.


Reverend Ida: double pink flower on japonica-like plant that likes shade.


Yuri recommended fertilizing sasanquas twice a year, in late April and early July. For sasanquas in pots, use a balanced fertilizer. For those in the ground, he cautions against using Osmocote on Peninsula soils as it can lead to an excess of phosphorous. He said that our clay soils are high in micronutrients and phosphorous, and that the focus in fertilizing should be on adding nitrogen. However, speaking of organic fertilizers like cottonseed meal and alfalfa, he warned that their high nitrogen content can lead to a spurt of growth which, in the event of a sudden hot spell, can cause leaf burn.


*Yuri brought a number of well-grown plants to share at the meeting. SFPCS will plant French Vanilla and Scented Snow at the Veterans’ Center park, continuing its long tradition of fostering plants there.

In true SFPCS fashion, Yuri’s talk was followed by a raffle of the plants he had brought, all different again from the above: Satin Pink, Daishuki (white with red, like Painted Desert) and Taimei Nishiki (single pale pink with white mottles). What a wealth of modest and versatile sasanquas!

Many of these plants are discussed in Yuri’s article Camellias for Dwarfs and Elves in the ACS Camellia Yearbook 2011. The article also has nice photos. Yuri maintains a few web sites including www.sazanka.org, which has a splendid photo of part of Yuri’s back garden as well as close-ups of some cultivars discussed here.

** This plant can be found at Camellia Forest Nursery (www.camforest.com) in North Carolina, which has some other nice looking sasanquas.