Camellia Pruning Techniques

What You'll Need
Sharp, clean garden pruners
Sharp, clean garden saw
What You'll Need
Sharp, clean garden pruners
Sharp, clean garden saw

Camellia flowers are similar to rhododendrons in that they do not require major pruning. Nonetheless, selective and careful pruning can greatly benefit this wonderful specimen plant. Here are some techniques that will help keep camellias looking their best.

When To Prune Camellias

Prune your camellias in the spring. While pruning at other times won’t hurt the plant, removing buds may affect next year’s blooms. Prune after the flowers have stopped blooming in the spring. For overgrown camellias, pruning in late winter (depending on area) will result in new growth in 6 to 8 weeks.

Reasons To Prune Camellias

There are only a few reasons that camellias should be pruned. First, pruning helps in disease and pest control. Second, it helps to shape the tplan. Third, selective pruning can encourage larger blooms.

Pruning For Disease And Pest Control

Camellias benefit from pruning the longer leaders and the inner branches to open up the plant and allow air and light to reach deep inside. This pruning encourages growth in the lower area of the plant and helps improve the camellia’s overall health and flowering. This practice can prevent diseases such as scale and blight.

Carefully inspect the camellia plant’s interior. Identify any weak or small branches, non-flowering branches or badly-positioned shoots in the interior of the plant. Use sharp, clean pruners or garden saw to cut off branches at the point where they meet the main branch.

How To Prune For Shaping

Do not trim back all the way to the ground as this will either cause numerous shoots or result in dieback. Although it may be great for hedge camellias, the practice will dramatically reduce or eliminate flowering. To train a camellia hedge, regularly trim back the new growth each spring. This will encourage bushiness.

Otherwise, to shape flowering camellias, thin out the growth as described for disease and pest control, pruning dead branches and out-of-position shoots. The size you want the plant to be will determine how you prune. If you want a larger plant, prune 1 inch or less. If you want your camelias to stay a certain size, prune only a few inches less than the size desired.

Pruning To Encourage Larger Blooms

To maximize the size of your plants, prune away all the flower buds except those that are outward-facing. Caution: the flower bud is more swollen in size than the leaf bud.