When it comes to choosing a camellia that you might like to grow in your garden, the choice is enormous. To start with, there are over 300 different species.
However, most of these camellia types are not grown commercially so you can usually narrow your choice down to two species – Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua.
It’s not that easy though because there are over 3,000 hybrids and cultivars that have been bred by growers mainly from these two main species of C. japonica and C. sasanqua. That’s a lot of different camellias to choose from!
The Main Differences Between C. japonica and C. sasanqua
Here’s a chart that identifies the main difference between these two species.
|Feature||C. japonica||C. sasanqua|
|Blooming time||Late winter to early or mid-spring||Fall through to winter|
|Growing position||Prefers part shade||Will grow in full sun|
|Maximum size||Up to 12 feet||Up to 10 feet|
|Maximum flower size||Up to 6 inches in diameter||Up to 4 inches in diameter|
|Leaves||Large glossy leaves up to 4 inches long||Smaller glossy leaves up to 1 inch long|
Common Beautiful Camellia Varieties
Here are some gorgeous types of camellia flowers that you can start adding to your collection:
Camellia japonica ‘Alba Plena’
This beautiful camellia has the most astonishing white flowers. The flower form is a formal double with a diameter of around 4 inches (10 cm). This is an old variety that was first listed in 1797 and then introduced into the US in 1800.
Camellia japonica ‘Ann Blair Brown’
This is a camellia that has light pink blooms that take on an anemone form. It was bred in the US and first registered in 1977. It actually grew as a seedling from C. Japonica ‘Frau Geheimrat Oldevig’.
Camellia japonica ‘Coquettii’
This would have to be one of the most stunning red camellias that you’re ever going to see. It has formal double blooms that are almost perfectly symmetrical. Interestingly, this is a variable cultivar and you can also get individual plants with pink or white flowers and peony forms.
Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’
You’ll find the soft peony form of these flowers absolutely delightful. The blooms are a delicate pale pink in color and the plant has a vigorous growth habit. It’s another old variety that was first registered in the early 1900s.
Camellia japonica ‘Elegans’
This is another old cultivar that has received numerous renamings over the years as well as improvements in flower color. The original form of this cultivar has peachy-pink flowers. Some more recent cultivars have flowers that are more rose pink with some white spotting.
There are also two other cultivars listed – ‘Elegans Miniata’ with delicate pink and white blooms and ‘Elegans Champagne’ with pure white blooms that have a cream center.
Camellia japonica ‘High Fragrance’
This camellia has the most exquisite pale pink flowers that have a peony form. It’s actually a hybrid between C. japonica ‘Mrs. Bertha A. Harms and Non-reticulata hybrid ‘Scentuous’. Best of all, the gorgeous large blooms are fragrant.
Camellia japonica ‘Lady Vansittart’
This beautiful camellia has a crisp white flower with delicate pink striping. It’s a semi-double and the petals have a wavy edge. It was first registered in 1887 and originates from Japan.
Camellia japonica ‘Magali’
For something slightly different, this attractive camellia has single blooms in a delicate pink color with golden anthers. It originates from Belgium and was first registered in 1914. The plant itself has a compact growth habit and the leaves are a very dark green color.
Camellia japonica ‘Mercury Supreme’
This camellia has lovely red and white two-toned flowers that are semi-doubles. It’s believed to be a sport of C. japonica ‘Mercury’ which is crimson in color.
In camellia circles, a sport is a natural mutation and this is quite common for numerous camellia species. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many different hybrids. What happens is that a part of the plant naturally shows different characteristics from the original. If a camellia breeder then propagates new plants from this part, the new plant will have those same characteristics.
A lot of the time, this “sporting” shows up as color variations and often produces flowers that are two-toned. At other times, the “sporting” can result in flowers that have a completely different form from the original.
Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’
The most stunning aspect of this lovely plant is the beautiful symmetry in the gorgeous pink flowers. They have a formal double form and are just exquisite. This particular cultivar dates way back to the late 18th century and was first registered in 1875.
Camellia japonica ‘Silver Waves’
This lovely plant has pure white blooms with wavy petals giving them a rather delicate look. The golden anthers and filaments add to the appeal of these flowers. This particular variety was bred in the US and first registered in 1969.
Camellia japonica ‘The Czar’
This pretty plant has light crimson blooms with golden anthers. It’s a semi-double and originated from Australia. It was first registered in 1913 and exhibits a sturdy growth habit.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’
This camellia has lovely deep crimson flowers with yellow stamens and anthers. The flowers are open and single in form. It originates from Japan and was first registered in 1937. The flowers are particularly attractive to bees.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Exquisite’
This delightful sasanqua variety has delicate pale pink blooms that are highly fragrant. The flowers are open and have golden anthers that add to their beauty. This hybrid is ideal for hedging thanks to its dense growth habit and smaller leaves. It also does well in more humid climates as well as cooler areas.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Kanjiro’
This particular variety is of Japanese origin and has delightful deep pink flowers with outstanding golden anthers. The blooms are also lightly fragrant and make ideal cut flowers. The plant itself has a slightly weeping habit with dense glossy green leaves.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’
This showy plant has crisp white flowers with petals that have wavy edges. The flowers are single and quite large. This particular variety is great for screening or it can be grown against a fence in espalier form.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishigashira’
When in bloom, this variety is covered with dark pink flowers in a semi-double form. It was first registered in the late 1800s and originates from Japan, like so many of the sasanqua species. The name “shishigashira” means lions head.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
This pretty sasanqua variety is ideal for hedging with its lovely open orange-red flowers that have a distinctive yellow center in the form of golden anthers. The upright growth has a dense habit and can easily be shaped to form a nice thick hedge.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Jury’s Yellow’
This unusual variety is a hybrid that was created by crossing Saluenensis x japonica ‘Edith Linton’ with C. Japonica ‘Gwenneth Morey’. It originates from New Zealand and has the loveliest creamy-yellow flowers that have an anemone form.
Camellia x williamsii ‘Debbie’
Nothing beats the bold pink flowers on this variety. They exhibit a semi-double or peony form and are absolutely stunning. This variety was bred in New Zealand and first registered in 1965.
If you love these camellia colors, don’t forget to learn how to grow camellias.