If you want a dependable landscape shrub that is evergreen, has glossy, dark green foliage and colorful, exquisite flowers, I would highly recommend looking at one of the many varieties of sasanquas. The foliage glistens in the sunlight and as a bonus; they bloom from early October well into winter, plus they are easy to grow.

There are many different species of camellias and the two that are grown the most in the landscape are Camellia sasanqua, called sasanqua, and Camellia japonica, known as Camellia. Sasanquas bloom in the fall while most Camellias bloom after Christmas. The most distinguishing characteristics between the two are that the flowers and the leaves of sasanquas are smaller than the flowers and leaves of Camellias. Also, sasanquas take a little more sun.

Sasanquas tend to be known as a Southern shrub but some of the newer varieties are a more cold tolerant than older varieties. Sasanquas are not hard to cultivate and are very long lived. They are not too particular about soil but they do require an acidic soil. They are perfect for hedges and can also be used as a single specimen.

I live in zone 7 and every sasanqua I have planted has done well. Everyone says they are slow growing and this might be true compared to some other fast growing plants but I find their rate of growth perfect. You can keep up with maintenance since they are not too fast growing.

The height of most sasanquas is 6- to 10-feet-tall. However, I have seen some much taller that are quite old. I would not want to put them under a window unless you intend to prune them twice a year. I have “Mine-No-Yuki” sasanquas planted as a hedge around the swimming pool. I do prune the hedge around the pool twice a year because I want to maintain a certain size. There are some shorter varieties but you will have to search to find them.

Sasanquas do well espaliered. I have seen some very creative uses of sasanquas on walls that look like works of art to me. Sasanquas will preform well flat up against any surface and look pretty all year long.

When planting a sasanqua, it is good to dig a hole wider than the size of the root ball but not deeper. Too often gardeners dig a deep hole, disturbing the soil below the plant. They then plant the bush at ground level, which is correct. The only problem is that the dirt that was disturbed below the plant will settle and the plant will sink, meaning that it is planted too deep. If you do dig a hole deeper than required, be sure to plant the sasanqua higher to allow for the plant to settle.

When I plant any plant, I dig the hole wider than the container. I take the excess dirt and mix it with rotten leaf compost or finely ground pine bark. I use this to fill in around the plant. This makes it easier for those tiny roots to spread out into the surrounding soil. If you live where the soil is solid clay, this is very important to do and if you live where the soil is sandy, add some peat moss or composted leaves to help bring the plant along. The peat moss will also add acidity to the soil that is needed.

I am assuming your plant has been grown in a container. If it has, be sure to pull the roots loose if any have started encircling the inside of the container. You want the roots to go out into the surrounding soil. You do not want the roots to continue in a circular direction around the plant. I cut the roots in three places if I cannot pull them loose easily.

As far as water, I water the sasanquas well when I plant to remove any air pockets in the soil. Then, depending on when you plant, this will determine the amount of water. I try hard to plant all my trees and shrubs in November, December and January. This way, the roots will get established over the winter and when the hot summer heat comes along, my plant will be better established to take the heat of the summer than a shrub planted in the spring.

If you plant in the winter months, water as needed, about once a week for the first month. If you plant in the spring, be sure to give it water every week all summer and into fall. They do not require as much water and please do not plant in an area where the ground is constantly wet, like at the end of a downspout. They do not like wet feet.

There are so many varieties available that it is hard to say which ones to plant. They are chosen by flower color and shape of the bloom. Most all are pink, white or red with yellow stamens. I have several that are my favorites. “Cleopatra,” “Pink Goddess” and “Jean May” are pink ones that I love. I have “Northern Light,” “Setsugekka” and “Mine-No-Yuki” that are white and light up a dark corner. “Yuletide” is red with a yellow stamen and makes a show around Christmas.

Right now, I have a lot of pretty color in the garden with the sasanquas blooming. Camellias will follow these and I will get to have flowers most of the winter. The cold will get them but they will pop back and bloom more. They are wonderful plants to have in the garden.

Betty Montgomery is a master gardener and author of “Hydrangeas: How To Grow, Cultivate & Enjoy,” and “A Four-Season Southern Garden.” She can be reached at bmontgomery40@gmail.com.