How to prune a camellia bush

Updated February 21, 2017

Depending on the camellia variety, the plants will grow to a large size. If not pruned, camellia bushes will begin to have spotty blooms and large areas with green leaves. Over longer periods, the green leafy areas will begin to thin, causing large areas of bare stem growth with no greenery. Camellias are best pruned every few years. New bud growth begins just after bloom petal fall. The best time to prune a camellia bush is just after bloom petal fall.

Remove all broken and dead branches with the pruning shears. Take the twiggy and bare stems down to the main trunk area. Leave a single bud node below each cut. This bud node will grow into several stems.

Prune branches that cross over each other. The rubbing action of the bark causes open wounds in the limbs that will attract insects and disease.

Convert larger camellia trees or shrubs to a compact size by removing lower limbs, leaving the top 1/3 intact. New growth will appear from the main trunk. The following spring, trim the top crown to the height you desire.

Keep all cut limbs and branches away from the camellia bushes. Compost the limbs or haul them away. Dead material from the camellia bush that is left around the base will attract pests that can injure the bush.


Never remove more than 1/3 the bush's overall size when pruning. Keep the base of the camellia bush covered with an organic mulch to retain moisture and retard weed growth. Fertilise the established camellia bush every month during growth with an acidic fertiliser. Consult package labelling for recommended application rates.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
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