Maximises growth’ How and when to prune Camellias – tips for perfect blooms

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Camellias are glossy evergreen shrubs, highly prized for their abundant blooms in hues of pink, white, and red. Hailing from East Asia, this spring-flowering plant is a popular choice amongst Britons – and understandably so; the plant puts on a vibrant display for most of the year. However, we’re now approaching the season to start pruning them, so here’s a guide on when’s best to, and how.

Camellias are a good choice for window boxes and pots, although these hardy plants can also be planted directly into the earth.

The native growing conditions of these plants tend to be partially shady woodland, so try to avoid planting your Camellias in direct sunlight and ensure they are sheltered from the wind.

As the resilient plants they are, Camellias don’t typically need much pruning and even if over-pruned, they’ll usually bounce back well.

But slight pruning at the right time can really help maximise growth, so if you’re looking for tips to give yours a boost, has compiled the following.

When is the best time to prune Camellias?

It’s best to prune Camellias in the late spring. May and June are advised to be the best months – making now the perfect time to get cracking if the buds have finished flowering.

This will allow sunlight to reach the shrub’s interior, which will help stimulate and reinvigorate it for the remaining summer months.

Try not to prune Camellias too late, as it might remove next year’s buds. Don’t worry if you do snip a few too many, it shouldn’t affect the plant’s lifespan but it will just mean you might have fewer blooms next year.

How much should you prune Camellias?

How much you prune really depends on how you’d like the plant to look.

To encourage more growth and a taller, bushier shrub, Homes and Gardens (H&G) recommends trimming around one inch off the ends of the branches.

To maintain the Camellia at its existing height and width, H&G says you could cut up to three inches off the branches.

If you’d like to reshape the Camellia, you’ll have to prune the plant in two stages and sacrifice some of its flowers the following season.

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H&G said: “Start with a drastic prune in late winter or early spring, reducing it by a third to a half of its former size – or more in extreme cases.

“As new shoots start to appear in the growing season, prune again to thin out the bushy new growth from the centre of the plant to encourage fewer, but stronger new stems.”

There are also additional methods to prune to better prevent disease.

The American Camellia Society recommends pruning limbs “flush to the feeder branches without leaving nubs.”

The experts continued: “These leftover branches could eventually provide a host for disease to enter your camellias.

“Many gardeners apply a pruning sealant or paint to all cut surfaces after pruning, but that practice is generally not necessary.”

It’s also important to use sharp tools to carry out all and any pruning. A sharp cut will heal quicker than a jagged one, which will also minimise the likelihood of disease festering within a cut.

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