How to Cut a Camellia

How to Cut a Camellia thumbnail
Vivid, vibrant camellias.

Camellias are gorgeous ornamental shrubs, but as they mature they can become scraggly. You can prune them just for shape each year, or you can renovate an out-of-control camellia tree into a small shrub over a period of several years. Either way, the trick is to prune right after blooming in the spring. This way, you'll be able to enjoy the scent and beauty of the flowers and then prune branches before new sprouts start.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Short-handled pruning shears
  • Scissors
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    • 1

      Wear garden gloves to protect your hands from blisters before tackling the task of pruning camellia bushes. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from falling twigs and branches when working with a camellia that is taller than you are.

    • 2

      Prune all branches on the lower two feet of the trunk. This will rehabilitate larger camellias into a beautiful, more compact tree. Keep your hands at the ends of the handles to get the best leverage and reach.

    • 3

      Look for deadwood at the interior of the shrub removing it as you go. Also focus on branches that are rubbing against each other, causing scarred, weakened limbs.

    • 4

      For a bushier appearance in plants that have thinned out, cut numerous branches back to the previous season's growth. Buds that grow below where you've snipped will grow several new shoots.

    • 5

      To make a tall camellia into a shrub, prune it back a foot or two each year for three consecutive years to ensure that you're not damaging the plant past the point where it can recover.

Tips & Warnings

  • Camellia, like most ornamental shrubs, is acid-loving. Fertilize in late spring and early summer with a fertilizer formulated for ornamental shrubs like rhododendron and azalea.

  • Avoid using hedge clippers to shear camellia into a formal hedge - it will spoil the natural, irregular beauty of the plant.

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  • Photo Credit Camélia image by Dominique LUZY from

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