How to Prune a Camellia Plant


With over 250 species of camellia to choose from, deciding on one or two may be more difficult than caring for the plant. One of the most important aspects of camellia care is pruning. Trimming your camellia bush will improve its health, according to the experts at the American Camellia Society. Don't be afraid to prune the plant heavily either--it will bounce right back and thrive. Pruning should be done in the spring, just before new growth.

Step 1

Prepare a solution of 1 cup of Lysol disinfectant in 4 cups of water in a bucket and dip the pruning tools into it after each cut.

Step 2

Lay the tarp on the soil near the camellia. Place your pruning tools on the tarp, not the soil.

Step 3

Thin inner branches to improve air circulation inside the bush. Choose thin or weak branches and cut them back to a main branch. Remove any twigs that are growing inward.

Step 4

Remove any diseased or dead branches. Cut them back to their point of origin. Don't allow the disease branches to lie on the soil, place them directly into the trash bag.

Step 5

Prune the camellia severely to bring it to the desired size or if it has been neglected. Experts with the American Camellia Society claim you can prune the plant to less than half its original size without harming it. It will most likely not flower, however, until the season after heavy pruning.

Step 6

Shape the plant by standing back to inspect it periodically during the pruning process. Begin by removing any long shoots that interfere with the desired shape. Remove undesired bottom growth by cutting back to main branches.

Step 7

Rake the camellia bed after pruning. Remove any foliage, dead flowers and other debris that can provide breeding grounds for pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Lysol disinfectant
  • Tarp
  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Small pruning saw
  • Rake
  • Large trash bag


  • The International Camellia Society: Basics of Camellia Care
  • American Camellia Society: Camellia Species
  • American Camellia Society: Pruning Camellias
  • Virginia Camellia Society: Pruning and Disbudding Camellias
  • Washington State University: Sterilized Pruning Tools: Nuisance or Necessity?
Keywords: prune camellia bush, camellia pruning, shape camellia bush

About this Author

Victoria Hunter has been a freelance writer since 2005, specializing in gardening-related topics and the real estate industry. She is a former broadcaster and real estate agent who has provided audio and written services to small businesses and large corporations worldwide. She writes for, GardenGuides and ProFlowers, among others. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.