The Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), is one of two camellias commonly used as ornamental shrubs in the southern United States. The other common camellia is the Sasanqua camellia, which has smaller blooms and leaves. In SE Louisiana the Japanese camellia has recently begun blooming in early January, just as the earlier-blooming Sasanquas are finishing flowering.
Japanese camellias originated in east Asia, and were introduced to the southern United States in the early 1800’s. Now there are thousands of Japanese camellia cultivars available to provide color to winter landscapes. Some have been developed that are hardy as far north as Zone 6.