How to Prune a Camphor Tree


Camphor trees are slow-growing evergreen specimens that grow 40 to 50 feet high and 50 to 70 feet wide. Its strong branches and thick, wide canopy leave little to no shade underneath this tree. Its tough roots make it invasive in some areas. In a home landscape, camphor trees often begin to overhang roofs and other places they shouldn't. Knowledge of how to prune these trees properly will help you keep one in your lawn without a problem.

Step 1

Prune the tree in late spring. The camphor is sensitive to cold damage, so do not prune it in winter; this would encourage new growth that could not defend itself.

Step 2

Sterilize your pruning shears. Wipe them down with a rag and rubbing alcohol. This will reduce the spread of disease from other plants to your camphor tree.

Step 3

Cut out weak branches and dead, diseased or crossing branches annually. Also remove any suckers growing from the base of the trunk. Cut right outside the root collar, where the branch attaches to the trunk. This will increase air flow through your camphor tree and ensure it stays healthy.

Step 4

Develop a strong trunk when the tree is young. Some will start to grow multi-stemmed trunks, but this detracts from the tree. Choose a central leader and prune all other potential trunks down to the ground.

Step 5

Develop a strong canopy structure as the tree grows. Choose major branches 18 to 30 inches apart on the trunk. Cut all others right outside the root collar. Do not allow two branches to grow from the same spot.

Step 6

Trim the canopy when the tree is mature. It will begin to droop as it grows and get in the way of pedestrians or other kinds of traffic. In some cases, with very large trees, you may want to call an arborist. He will be able to trim the canopy and keep the tree even and healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rag
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • UC Davis: Cinnamomum camphorum
  • USDA Forest Service: Some Urban Trees of California
  • University of Florida Horticulture: Cinnamomum camphora
Keywords: pruning camphor tree, sterilizing pruning shears, pruning camphor canopy

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.