How to Prune Your Camellia


Camellias were first introduced to the southern landscape in Charleston in 1786. Since then they have become a southern favorite for the home landscape and flower gardens. They are particularly effective planted in masses as hedges, screens and background plantings. Camellias bloom in the fall and winter when other flowers are waning. They are available in an assortment of colors and patterns.

Step 1

Prune camellias in the late winter or early spring, after blooming is finished. Use clean, sharp tools when pruning. Sharp cuts heal faster and are less likely to become diseased. Cut back to the previous joint, without leaving a stub.

Step 2

Remove dead, diseased and dying branches. Severely prune back branches infested with scale or other insects. Remove pruned branches from the area immediately.

Step 3

Prune to shape the tree and define its purpose in the landscape. Trim camellias grown as shrubs to their intended shape regularly. Shape trees into a pleasing symmetrical shape that maintains the natural shape of the tree.

Step 4

Thin out interior growth that blocks sunlight to the inner branches. Remove branches that cross or rub and limbs that droop downward.

Step 5

Remove a maximum of one-third of the tree during any year. Large trees that have not been cared for may need severe pruning, removing a third to a half of the tree over a period of two to three years. Do severe pruning in late February.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or loppers
  • Small hand saw


  • American Camellia Society: Pruning Camellias
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Camellias in Florida
  • Oregon State Extension: Spruce Up Older Camellias with a Late Spring Tri
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Camellias in Florida
Keywords: prune camellias, camellia care, camellia pruning

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.