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How to Prune an Old Camellia Bush

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Camellia bushes require minimal care and pruning, but over time they may begin flowering less or they become overgrown and unattractive looking. Extreme pruning rejuvenates the camellia so it once again is as becoming as a younger plant.

Putting off pruning can lead to disease from lack of air circulation around the inner branches of the bush, as well as inhibiting the blooming capability of the camellia. Prune your old camellia bush as soon as it finishes flowering in spring but before it has begun forming new flower buds.

Sterilize your pruning shears prior to pruning so no disease-causing bacteria is transferred to the camellia. Mix one part bleach with nine parts water and rinse the shears in the solution. Rinse the shears before you begin pruning a different camellia shrub, and again when you are finished.

Inspect the camellia for dead or broken branches. Cut these off where they join the main trunk or a healthy branch.

Cut off branches that are crossing or rubbing against other branches. Prune off the least strong or weakest-appearing branch where it joins the trunk or another larger branch.

Cut the camellia into shape to make it bushier. Cut off branches that have grown too long or are badly placed visually. Prune them off right above the nearest leaf bud at the desired height. The leaf buds will form new branches, thus making the camellia fuller.

Fertilize immediately after pruning with a camellia fertilizer or one for flowering shrubs, following label instructions. Fertilizing encourages new growth on the recently pruned bush.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bleach
  • Fertilizer


  • Make the camellia more tree-like than bushy by trimming off the branches on the lower part of the trunk.
  • Cut down the top of the camellia to the height you desire if it is growing too high.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.