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What Are the Best Tips for Pruning Camellias?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Pruning camellias is not always necessary to keep them in good health and good form, but there are times when pruning camellias is necessary or desired. If a gardener wants to prune them, the timing of the task is the most important tip to remember. Poorly timed pruning of camellias likely will result in few blooms the following year, or even no flowers at all. To ensure the shrub blooms the following year, it is best to prune a camellia just after it has finished flowering.

Unlike some shrubs that continue to put forth new growth during the entire growing season, camellias do not. These plants only exhibit new growth and put out buds for the next season of flowering during a short window of time that follows their bloom period. Camellias will expend their energy to put out new growth, including blooms for the following season, for only so long, and then no longer until the next growth cycle rolls around the following year. Pruning camellias at any other time than just after their bloom period will lop off next year’s blooms.

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Pruning camellias does not have to be difficult. If the shrub is too tall for its spot in the garden or threatens to become so, or if it is becoming ungainly, a gardener can give the shrub a hard pruning, lopping off many of its limbs, and this pruning can be done nearly to the body of the camellia’s trunk, if necessary. This type of pruning can help invigorate an older shrub.

There are several things to consider when pruning camellias. If there are dead branches, or the branches are growing in a thick mass and preventing proper air circulation, camellias can be pruned by removing some of these dead or thickly growing branches. This has the added advantage of being a preventative, keeping the chance for disease low. This type of pruning also will prompt bigger blooms. Pruning camellias can also be done to influence the shrub’s shape. This, too, will bring forth more blooms and make for a shrubbier, fuller camellia.

Caring for camellias is not a difficult task because these shrubs can withstand winter’s harshness and summer’s heat. Growing camellias is mainly a matter of giving them their basic requirements. These include a properly acidic soil, sufficient water and, for the more tender varieties, some protection from too much heat or extreme cold.

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