How to Prune a Camellia Bush

Camellia bushes are a garden favorite, especially if you’re living in USDA zones 6 to 9. Their showy flower buds grace your garden from winter to spring, while the evergreen foliage offers shade and privacy all year round. To keep your Camellia looking beautiful we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to prune a camellia bush.

An unkempt camellia bush isn’t an attractive sight. Pruning may not be an essential part of the plant’s maintenance, but most gardeners recommend yearly trimming of the bush to keep it attractive and healthy. Continue reading to find out how pruning helps and how to prune your camellia bush for the best outcomes.

Why Do You Trim Camellias?

Overgrown camellia bushes aren’t as beautiful as you’d like them to be – that’s for sure. You aren’t making the most out of your landscape if you’re not keeping your garden plants in good shape. However, pruning isn’t all about enhancing the looks.  Over the years, the branches become weaker without proper pruning and the flowers become less attractive. Plus, it also makes the plant susceptible to diseases when you don’t prune your older camellia. Weaker camellias are vulnerable to frost damage and strong winds since they have thin branches. All these problems can be avoided with proper, regular pruning techniques. A good trim will boost their health and prepare them for blooming with full vigor for the following season.

When to Prune Camellia Bushes

Camellia Flowers The best time to prune Camellias is at any time of the year if you just plan on giving it a neat look. However, if your goal is to boost the flower production for next year, prune it just after it finishes flowering for the season. For Pink Perfection Camellias,  pruning is best done in May or June, once they finish blooming in the Spring.

Sasanqua camellias, including Shishi Gashira, blooms from late fall through early winter and sometimes spring, so you’ll be pruning them in winters before the growing season in spring. The objective is to prune the shrub before the new growth, so you don’t accidentally snip off any blossom buds getting reading to bloom for the next season.

How To Prune Camellia Bush?

Up Close Camellia Flower Pruning camellia japonicas isn’t tough at all. You can prune them in the same way you do with all shrubs. Also, since they don’t grow too big, you can get away with a pair of hand pruners for the smaller branches, and a pruning saw for the larger ones.  

Remove Dead Branches

Start by removing the dead and weak branches and twiggy growth on the inside of the plant. Use bypass pruners to cut off the dead branches from the source, or at least two inches below the damaged point. Removing these branches and foliage clears some space for air and light to reach the foliage growing in the shaded areas of the shrub.

Remove Suckers And Unwanted Branches

Once you’re done getting rid of the dead material, get to the plant’s base and remove any broken branches and suckers. Also, remove crowded branches or crossing branches to allow air circulation between the shoots and prevent diseases.

Trimming Camellia’s Long Shoots

Trim the branches that are blocking pathways, shading neighboring plants, or rubbing against a wall. Remove or trim all the overgrown shoots as well. Unless you have an overgrown camellia tree to prune, cutting back to less than one-third is sufficient each year to stimulate new growth. However, severe pruning may be required if you have a big, dense camellia bush in your garden that has been neglected for years.

Severe Pruning

If you want to cut back your camellia bush severely to the desired height, use a pruning saw to cut back all the branches, leaving only 1.5 feet of growth above the ground. This type of pruning is best performed in early spring when growth is at its best, and the plant can quickly recover from the intense trimming. Once the camellia shrub is rejuvenated, you can resume the regular annual pruning routine of cutting back to less than one-third.

Pruning camellias won’t take much of your time but will pay off with a healthy, attractive bush that adds elegance to your outdoor landscape. Other than pruning it to boost its health, you can also give it the desired shape. The camellias you’ll order at our online store can beautifully be shaped into a small camellia tree once they’re a bit larger too.

Interested in more info on pruning? Check out our guide to pruning shrubs and trees