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How to Revive an Old Camellia Bush

Camélia image by Dominique LUZY from

The camellia, with its dark, glossy green leaves, is a slow growing evergreen bush that can reach a height of 15 feet. Large blooms of white, pink, red or purple appear in late winter in colder regions, making the camellia bush a sought after addition to the landscape. Thriving in part shade to full shade, with proper care, a camellia will be healthy and keep delivering blooms year after year. Pruning after the bush blooms and before new growth appears can help to revive an old camellia bush.

Clean tools by wiping with alcohol or dipping in a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.

Cut dead, insect infested or broken limbs at the trunk.

Cut rogue limbs that project out beyond the shape of the bush. Cut back any limbs to attain a desired height and width suitable for the location or to thin the bush.

Cut a camellia back by one-third when the overall shape or condition cannot be improved with general pruning. Repeat the one-third pruning every year for three years, at which time all growth should be new.

Cut a camellia to the ground if the bush has been damaged by storm, insects or other calamity. Even when severely pruned, the bush will re-grow though it may not bloom the first season.

Care For A Camellia Bush

A winter- and spring-flowering evergreen bush, camellia (Camellia spp.) belongs to a wide-ranging plant family. Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), which is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, grows 7 to 12 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide, and sasanqua camellia (Camellia sasanqua), which is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9, grows 4 to 15 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. Camellia thrives in well-drained soil rich in organic matter with a pH between 5 and 6.5 and in a partial shade site sheltered from strong winds. Avoid saturating the soil because this can cause root rot. Examine camellia for signs of tea scale, which are 1.5-mm yellow, white or brown, shell-like insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves, sometimes giving a fuzzy appearance. Prune diseased plant parts, cutting at a healthy leaf bud 3 or 4 inches below the affected area and sterilizing pruning shears between cuts to provide control.

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