Pruning Camellias


The tea plant, Camellias sinensis, is best known for tea produced from its leaves, although some varieties of tea are also produced from other types of camellias. The camellia is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows to 6 to 8 feet tall with broad, thick and serrated leaves that overlap each other. The plant produces large flowers graduating in color from white to red. The plant blooms during cool-to-cold weather and can survive temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper pruning stimulates the growth of the foliage and blooms.

Step 1

Prune a camellia shrub every year from mid-February to the beginning of May to rid it of excess foliage and dry, dead or weak limbs. Pruning allows direct sunlight and more nourishment to reach the plant to stimulate new growth. Use pruning shears or a small tree hand saw.

Step 2

Cut back long, unattractive shoots and dead or weak branches at any time to maintain the plant's health.

Step 3

Transform the shrub into a small tree or simply reduce it in size while it is being pruned. Large and overgrown shrubs require a full year to properly prune to the desired size and shape.

Step 4

Stimulate the growth of the shrub by pruning the camellia severely every two years. Cut unattractive, weak or damaged branches next to the stump and back to the most recent growth. Buds underneath the cut will develop new stems, making the shrub bushier and denser.

Step 5

Apply an acid plant fertilizer lightly while plants are blooming. Follow the directions on the label.

Tips and Warnings

  • Leafs that fall from the tree or leafs burned around the edges indicate too much fertilizer. Make a solution of nine parts water to one part chlorine bleach. Dip all pruning tools into the solution throughout the pruning process and dry it with a clean towel between cuttings. Spray the plant with a fungicide immediately after pruning to protect it from fungus while healing.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Small tree hand saw
  • Fertilizer


  • Oregon State University: Spruce up Older Camellias with a Late Spring Trim
  • University of California Extension: Camellias
Keywords: prune camellia plants, camellia plant care, camellia plant pruning

About this Author

Freelance writing since 2009, Tom Ross has 30 years of corporate management and hands-on experience in the supermarket industry. Ross was featured on the cover of "Instore Buyer" magazine and his articles have appeared on eHow.