Forum home Plants

Pruning Magnolia and Camellia

bobloesbobloes Posts: 134
Hi All,

My daughter has inherited a 12 foot high (about the same spread) magnolia tree which has (possibly) not been controlled and hence it's shape is not great.  My idiots guide to pruning is very general but does mention that any cuts may not scab over.  I have pruned shrubs and even pear and apple trees in the past - they survived.  Any advice on the magnolia?

She also has a couple of 8-10 foot camellias.  I killed one some years ago so a bit cautious.  She wants to reduce their size, again any advice?




  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,833
    I don't know about the magnolia, but you can certainly prune camellias. Best left until after flowering - spring for most of them. You can do it stages, if worried about killing it  ;)
    Take it back a bit next year, then do the same the following year. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,512
    Mature Magnolias don’t respond well to heavy pruning, they send up long, straight water shoots (like suckers), which ruins the shape (even if it’s not a very nice shape to begin with). If it has to be pruned, do it when it’s dormant around February, before it starts into new growth and, a branch or two a year, but not any biggies. Even then it won’t be massively happy about it. If pruned later, the cuts will ooze sap and this should be avoided. If it’s 12x12ft, it’s probably a Grandiflora, which are big trees and just lopping off some of the height won’t really work. If it’s too big, maybe better to dig it up and plant something of a more suitable scale.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    According to RHS:
    Deciduous magnolias: between mid-summer and early autumn, bleeds in late winter and spring
    Evergreen magnolias: young trees in spring, established in summer
    Light pruning for both.
  • Cut down a camellia to about a foot cos I wanted it out but life got in the way and up it grew again!
  • bobloesbobloes Posts: 134
    Thanks very much to all for the advice which really amounts to (and no insult intended) 'do not be a bull in a china shop'.  Not one of my best qualities but I shall go gently in the spring/summer.
    Always a really good source of knowledge - one day I might be able to contribute.


Sign In or Register to comment.