Printer Friendly

Why prune camellias? For more flowers, for a better shape.

Many gardeners don't think of pruning as part of regular camellia care. But Rudy Moore, the horticulturist responsible for the camellias at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, says removing dead wood and unproductive branches improves plant appearance and performance more than you might think. Shaping or thinning to control size can help if your camellia is in front of a window or in a tight space. It can also stimulate production of flowers and improve their quality.

You can thin and groom a camellia any time of year without danger of hurting the plant. But the best time to reduce plant size is right after flowering; none of next year's flowers are lost, and the energy of spring growth is directed as your pruning determines.

Moore's most important tool are sharp hand shears and long-handled loppers. If you're tackling a big plant, you might also need a pruning saw and a stepladder.

The principles of pruning most types of camellias are the same, whether you're trimming a 3-year-old youngster or a 30-year-old tree like the one pictured here.

Study the plant before you start. The idea of thinning is to remove about a third of the growth to enhance shape. Determine what size and shape you want: tree-like or shrub-like, tall or compact.

Cut out dead growth. It contributes nothing to the plant's structure, and eliminating it will make subsequent pruning choices easier. Remove unnecessary interior branches at their point of origin; cut back long branches just past a growth bud in order to strengthen them. Make all cuts close to the branch--never leave stubs.

Look for wild branches. These grow much faster than most, are crooked, or head the wrong direction in relation to the desired shape. Moore suggests making a few cuts, stepping back and taking a look, then cutting additional branches as necessary.

Cut away root suckers (see photograph at left). You might also prune out lower branches to make raking under the plant easier.

Feed. Use a fertilizer of your choice, following label directions. Most experts prefer cottonseed meal, about 8 to 12 ounces per mature plant; most also recommend using chelated iron at the same time to prevent yellowing.

For examples to follow, you can visit the display garden at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodo, with an eye to using their best-looking specimens as a pruning guide. The park is at 11793 N. Micke Grove Road. Hours are 9 to 4 weekdays, 9 to 2 Saturday and Sundays. Admission is free; parking is $2 per car weekdays, $2.50 weekends. From State Highway 99 three miles south of Lodi, take Armstrong Road 1/2 mile west, then turn left. The camellia collection is adjacent to the Japanese Garden.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1985
Words:456
Previous Article:Colorful cosmos, dwarf to giant.
Next Article:Metal or bamboo? And other questions to ask about rakes.
Topics:


Related Articles
The camellias that do everything...even bloom for Christmas; sasanquas.
If Michelangelo had pruning shears ....
It's real. This Christmas tree is a camellia.
Camellia blooms for Christmas.
Camellia capers!
GARDENING: Q&A.
GARDENING LOW-MAINTENANCE CAMELLIAS THRIVE IN VALLEY.
BRIGHT SPOT IN THE GARDEN; CAMELLIAS CAN DRESS UP DRAB WINTER SCENE.
GARDENING : IT'S TIME TO PRUNE WHEN AZALEA, CAMELLIA FLOWERS FADE.
Home & Gardens: Plant of the Week.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters