Best Time To Prune

pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)April 9, 2007

Hello - I hang out mostly in the Rose Forum, but I had a question about my camellias. I have 4 about 5 feet tall shrub type camellias 2 double pink - 2 double white, and I don't want to endanger next year's bloom. They are super healthy and look great, but they need to be shaped. I like more of a formal shape, not scraggly. When is the best time to prune. After they bloom? When is the best time to fertilize? I have a box of the rhodie, camellia food. I don't know much about camellias. I've lived here for two years with them and have mostly been winging it. Thanks for your help!

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Hello, pacnwgrdngirl. The best time to do major pruning is while the plant is dormant (during fall/winter). I would define 'major' pruning as cutting 1/3 of the plant or more. Minor or selective pruning can be done any time but is best done after the plant has flowered and before it has started to develop new flower buds.

Regarding flower buds, Camellias begin to develop flower buds around July/August 2007. Prune before July and you are almost guaranteed not to affect next year's bloomage. Prune on July or later and you run the risk of cutting off some of next year's flowers.

Regarding the fertilizer, feed them three times a year. I use a slow release organic fertilizer called cotton seed meal. I apply it three times a year, March, May/June and September. Since your plants are about 5' tall, you may want to feed them 1.5 cups or 2.

Check out the American Camellia Association Website for more information too. To get there, click the link below and then click the link titled "Camellia Culture".

This link will take you directly to ACA's webpage on pruning camellias.

Does that help you?

Here is a link that might be useful: American Camellia Association

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 7:52PM
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pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)

Yes! Thank you very much Luis!!!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 10:59AM
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pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)

UPDATE: My camellias are covered with trillions of buds. I pruned right before new buds developed and they have a nice shape too.
Can't wait for them to bloom. Thanks so much for the help Luis. I am finally learning what to do with all these wonderful plants I inherited with this huge garden. :o)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 9:51PM
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Sounds like your camellias are beautiful! Luis gave you great advice. What he told you is exactly what a camellia farm told me recently regarding pruning and feeding.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 1:18AM
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Hey rosy girl! I'm mostly on the rose forum too. Camelia people have the best climate for both say I! Remember not too strong on the fertilizer as many people have burned up their plants that way. I mostly use cottonseed meal and some mulch but never too close to the trunk of the plant. Also remember not to cover up with mulch too close to the trunk. I stay at least 6" back to be safe. Mine like a little iron from time to time to keep that dark green color.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:57PM
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"I"!!! I love camellias (as much as roses). Also, this camellia forum, though not as active as both the rose forums, seems to have much less nastiness.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 1:11AM
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i live in an 100 year old victorian and there are 5 camelia trees that are probably 13-15 feet high. they are loaded with buds and just beginning to bloom. healthy and gorgeous. when can i take cuttings? we have white, double blood red, burgundy, hot pink and one that looks like debutant.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:35PM
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paula95448: technically, you can take cuttings from camellias anytime in the year and try to root them--they're very forgiving. that having been said, I've had the best luck with cuttings taken in July right before the new wood has completely hardened through to September when next year's buds have become apparent. But winter cuttings have also been successful with bottom heat and supplemented light. It sounds like you actually have the bushes you wish to reproduce on your own property--have you considered doing air layerings? This method has produced the highest success rate for me and the new plants are much larger than cuttings and generally flower the year after removal from the mother plant. I'm all for it on my own bushes, although I use cuttings on varieties I collect from garden centres and other people's yards :P


    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 4:43PM
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My camelia's are very tall, several feet tall. I am six feet and they are four of five feet taller than me. They have bloomed already although there is a bloom just opened I have not before noticed. They are too tall for my yard and I desire to prune them. Pleas advise if I can prune them to a height of four feet which is more appropriate for our location. Thanks

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Yes but I would have done that when the plant was dormant. Heavily pruning by a third or half should be done around February.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:57PM
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