Smaller, Easier, More Versatile
Let's start with size. The common camellia (C. japonica) begins as a shrub but usually ends up as a tree, 15 to 25 feet high and wide. So it takes up a lot of space--not exactly the perfect choice for planting under eaves and windows or between the sidewalk and curb. A mature sasanqua is smaller. Upright selections can grow 10 to 12 feet high and wide. Mounding types, popularly called dwarf sasanquas, grow only 2 to 5 feet tall and wide. Therefore, when you plant one of these, you won't have to worry that your house with a camellia out front will morph into a camellia with a house in back.
Now examine the foliage. A sasanqua's leaves are simply beautiful, with many types emerging coppery-bronze and maturing to glossy, deep green. These leaves are about half the size of a common camellia's and much less coarse. "Sasanquas have this delicate quality about them, almost like a child," notes landscape architect Steve Dudash of DesignWorks in Charleston, South Carolina. "Their leaves aren't big and thick like those of a (common) camellia."
Sasanquas also boast a laxity, grace, and airiness unmatched by common camellias. In the landscape, a common camellia looks as dense as a bowling ball and as stiff as a guard at Buckingham Palace. But a sasanqua's branches reach up and out, leaving spaces in between, and its stems are much more pliable. Combine smaller size and beautiful foliage with a graceful form, and you wind up with a plant you can use in many different ways.