Camellias often outlast the people who planted them. They may grow slowly, but they continue that growth for a very long time, often getting far too big for the planting area. Pruning a camellia improve its health, reduces its size and helps nutrients get to all parts of the plant. When trimming back this species, you do not need to worry about cutting off too much. Camellias can be severely pruned and still come back with vigor and beautiful blooms.
Prune camellias after the flowers bloom but before there is new growth. Early in the season is ideal. If you cut the plant back after June, you will be eliminating flower buds for next season, which means you'll see less color.
Cut off dead and dying limbs to reduce the likelihood of disease, including "dieback." You can tell a branch is weak if there is only one bud and no shoots growing from that bud. Camellias that are neglected often develop degenerative twigs that sap energy from the rest of the plant. Removing them frees up that energy for growth elsewhere.
Check the plant for signs of scale, including yellow wilted leaves and blemishes. Neglected camellias may become infested with these insects. Cut back the branches severely to give it new life and cut down on problems.
Cut back branches that are growing in a wayward fashion. Sometimes camellias get too big for the space they're planted in. Cut unwanted wood off where it meets other branches. This will encourage the plant to grow more foliage and flowers in a compact form.
Trim off branches that are growing in toward the middle of the camellia plant. These will not get the sunlight and air they need to flourish, so you might as well prune them now.
Make all cuts right next to the trunk. Leaving stumps sticking out invites disease, so make all the cuts flush.
Reduce the size of a camellia significantly with a severe pruning. This restores the vigor and makes the plant look more defined. Remove up to one half of the plant right after it completes blooming.