Camellia sasanqua ‘Hiryu’

Sasanqua Camellia, Sazanka

Camellia sasanqua is a gorgeous evergreen flowering shrub, featuring attractive glossy dark green foliage, suitable for a wide range of garden styles. They grow best in sheltered part-shade and moist well-drained soil – or in a large container with ericaceous compost.

The ‘Hiryu’ cultivar displays heart shaped deep cerise petals which contrast the central golden stamens of this popular showstopper which bears its blooms from late autumn through the winter, bringing joy to the darker months.

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Origin: China & Japan
Genus: Camellia
Species / Cultivar: sasanqua 'Hiryu'
Common Name: Sasanqua Camellia, Sazanka

Plant Biography

‘Hiryu’ is a cultivar of the Chinese and Japanese native Camellia sasanqua, which can be found growing wild on sites up to 900 metres above sea level. In Japan this species is called Sazanka, and Japanese horticulturalists have been breeding cultivars since at least the early Edo period (17th Century).

As well as its beautiful ornamental value, it is also cultivated there as a tea leaf and to produce tea seed oil from the seeds – an important product used in a range of goods from cosmetics to lighting.

In the 19th Century Captain Richard Rawes from the British East India Company took a C. sasanqua variety from China back to relatives in Kent. Subsequently, Dutch colonialists brought specimens to mainland Europe, and eventually the species and its many cultivars became very popular in western horticulture.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Hiryu’
Soil: Ericaceous
Will not tolerate an alkaline pH, so pot in ericaceous compost if site is not neutral to acid.
Growth Rate: Slow
This plant is particularly slow to grow, even during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 2.5-4m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 2.5-4m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.

Expert Tip

This is a neat plant that will not require regular pruning, however if you want to give it a trim the best time is just after the last flowers fade - this gives the plant plenty of time to produce new buds for next seasons’ blooms.
Popular With Gardeners And Pollinators

Popular With Gardeners And Pollinators

‘Hiryu’ has an open flower centre, with a central crown of yellow stamens that makes an excellent source of Autumn sustenance for tough pollinators braving the onset of colder weather.

Camellia sasanqua and its cultivars are distinguished from Camellia japonica by their smaller leaves and tighter growth habit, making them a more popular choice for hedging effects.

They also generally begin flowering earlier: ‘Hiryu’ is reported to begin as early as the end of September in some gardens, often producing several flushes into December or even January. Whilst C. japonica is never scented, like many sasanquas, ‘Hiryu’ has a subtle, delightful fragrance.

Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Camellias are all acid loving plants, so if you want to improve the planting area it is worth considering getting some ericaceous compost or slow release ericaceous fertiliser.

This is a good choice for a container specimen, as it is slow growing, though you should select a large pot or be prepared to plant out eventually as the plant can reach a final height of 2-3m.


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