From a Breeding Process Spanning Decades to the Chelsea Flower Show Shortlist

The time had finally come on Tuesday, September 21st: Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine was proudly introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021. This incredible specimen immediately made it to the shortlist for Plant of the Year: and for a good reason.

Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine (‘Yulan01’PBR) was bred by Camellia experts Mr Gao Jiyin and Mr Liu Xinkai. Mr Gao has been working in Camellia research for over forty years and studying Camellia breeding since early 2006. Between 1986 and 2003, he crossed over 800 Camellia cultivars: “It was during this period that C. azalea (C. changii) was discovered in China. At the time, I wondered if the genetics of C. azalea could be combined with other Camellia species. It was that thought that motivated me to start breeding Camellia myself.”

A breeding process spanning decades

However, growing these C. azalea hybrids hasn’t always been an easy ride. The unique growing conditions these plants required were challenging to replicate. As a result, a decades-long breeding process followed to combine the summer-flowering genetics of C. azalea with those of other Camellia: hopefully leading to a garden-friendly Camellia, suitable for all climates. “It takes an average of eight to fifteen years to successfully grow a new Camellia variety in the United States or other countries. We ran into several problems. The first problem was in the compatibility between the two Camellia parents necessary for the crossing. We ended up pollinating over 200,000 flowers in the last fifteen years!”

The first hybrid on the commercial market

But the results are impressive. Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine is the first hybrid by Mr Gao and his team to be introduced to the European commercial market. “I am very happy with this new variety and very proud that we were able to present it at the Chelsea Flower Show. When I shared the news with the team members of our Camellia team, their faces lit up from happiness and pride!” 

And luckily, it doesn’t stop there: “Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine is just one of 500 newly bred hybrids. We will be testing more hybrids in Europe. I believe that by doing so, we can enter a revolutionary new era with Camellia hybrids that bloom almost all year round.” 

Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine in the garden

Not only is this Camellia suitable for many climates, but its flowering performance is almost unbeatable. She blooms several months throughout the different seasons. In fact, in China, she blooms all year round. And with her dense habit, dark glossy leaves and large flowers, she’s a sight for sore eyes in any garden or landscape.

Plant 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine in well-drained soil and give it a nice spot in the garden, border, or terrace or balcony. This evergreen shrub can stand both in the sun and in the (semi-) shade but prefers the shade. After ten years, 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine will be approx. 150 cm high and 100 cm wide. Pruning is possible after flowering. She’s hardy to approximately -10 ºC.

Camellia 1001 Summer Nights® Jasmine is protected by PBR and is represented in Europe by Plantipp.