The camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) is a fast-growing, large shade tree that can reach up to 50 feet tall and 70 feet wide. Growing in warmer, subtropical and tropical regions, the tree’s leaves and flowers emit a strong camphor fragrance. Camphor is extracted from the tree for use in aroma therapy, as well as to make balms for insect bites, infected skin abrasions and cuts, and fungal, bacterial and viral skin infections. You should prune your camphor trees in late winter, just before the tree emerges from dormancy and new growth begins.
Select about four to six of the strongest lateral branches in the first winter after planting the camphor tree. Choose branches that are not growing opposite each other, but instead are staggered on either side of the trunk.
Prune away all growth from the trunk except for the four to six selected branches, cutting the branches back to the trunk. Ensure that the selected branches are spaced at least 18 inches apart.
Cut back and remove any upright stems growing beside the camphor tree’s trunk. This growth can result in an unhealthy, multitrunked tree.
Continue to maintain the main branches and single trunk by pruning back all extraneous growth each year. Keep the major limbs spaced at 18 to 30 inches apart and keep the trunk clear of any sprouting growth.