Pruning camellias: instructions & expert tips


I studied agricultural sciences with full conviction - an obvious choice for me, as I grew up on my parents’ farm and learned early on to find joy in taking care of plants and animals.

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It can be very useful to prune a camellia to maintain its growth habit. We will show you everything you need to know about the best pruning camellias.

Shears and a camellia flower
Camellias should be pruned from time to time [Photo: Richard Griffin/]

Camellia (Camellia) is a very slow growing plant. That is why many gardeners ask themselves: should I even prune my camellia at all? As is often the case, the correct answer to this question depends on the reason for the cut. We explain at what time and for what occasion you should cut your camellia and how best to do it.

Pruning camellias: when is the best time?

The best time to prune camellias is from May to July. That is when the plants are about to enter their biggest growth phase and the flowering period is over. In general, flowers that have withered can be cut off even during flowering.

Pruning camellias after flowering

Immediately after flowering, it makes sense to remove the withered flowers that are usually still attached. Cutting the flower will directly stimulate your camellia to form new buds again. Pruning also promotes branching, so you can hope for a more lush crown.

Wilting camellia flowers
Pruning can be done after the flowers have wilted [Photo: Torgonskaya Tatiana/]

Pruning camellias: expert tips

When pruning camellias, you need to distinguish between several types of pruning. Depending on the occasion, the procedure also changes slightly. However, the following applies to all pruning: less is more. We give a brief description of each cut and explain how to proceed.

Maintenance pruning

Maintenance pruning should mainly be applied to sick camellia specimens to rid them of their diseased or dead plant parts. However, you should only remove infested parts of the plant. Maintenance pruning also includes thinning the crown of older plants. This means removing leafless and weaker shoots inside the crown. This helps to compact the crown and channel the energy into young shoots.

Browning camellia flower
Sickly camellia flowers should be removed [Photo: Veronika Von/]

Training camellias

Education pruning, unlike maintenance pruning, is more of a cosmetic measure. Here, too, lush shoots must first be available so that a moderate cut can be carried out. During training pruning, only isolated shoot tips that protrude from the overall appearance of the plant are removed. Often the camellia is trimmed into a slight V-shape so that it tapers to the base of the stem. Extensive topiary is hardly possible due to the slow growth and sparse crowning.

Camellia tree full of flowers
Topiary is hardly possible with the camellia [Photo: TinasDreamworld/]

Camellias: how exactly to prune

Camellia has a naturally very well-arranged growth habit, so pruning is not particularly complicated. Along the shoot, cuts can be made at any node, because the camellia sprouts anew from these sites. However, care must be taken that your camellia does not lose too much volume at once, as it is not able to compensate quickly. Always use sharp rose shears for pruning, regardless of the occasion, to avoid bruising.

Person pruning roses with shears
Rose pruning shears are suitable for cutting camellias [Photo: Berna Namoglu/]

Note: Many camellia varieties have a leaf-free area at the base of the stem. Never cut the camellia too close to this area, because the plant may not recover from it and will not grow new shoots.

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