Inspect the branches of your Camellia japonica for dead or diseased spots. You'll need to cut off any dead or damaged branches at their juncture with the main branch. Cut these branches off cleanly and place all cuttings in a trash bag and remove it from the site. If you leave diseased clippings nearby, you'll attract pests.
Prepare a 1-to-9 part solution of bleach to water. You'll want to disinfect your pruning equipment between every cut, healthy or diseased, according to horticulturists at the University of Georgia.
Trim off small nonflowering branches that are 2 to 4 inches long and grow on major branches. These small branches will never flower and they could become a hot spot for scale, one of the bacteria that affect camellia. Pruning away these tiny branches also promotes air circulation inside the camellia shrub.
Clip the ends of fast-growing shoots to promote lateral branching. This helps Camellia japonica develop into a bushy, thick shrub that is ideal for groundcover or privacy
Wait until mid summer. You'll do a second pruning to get the camellia in shape for winter.
Thin out the new shoots that have grown as a result of your last pruning. Reduce the number of shoots so the bush doesn't look ratty.
Trim back the tops of the foliage and stems to give the entire shrub an even, neat appearance.