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Prune the camellia: which tools to use
The camellia pruning must be carried out taking into account that it is an operation that risks causing plant infections. For this reason, any tool that is used must always be carefully disinfected, whether it is scissors or shears. Furthermore, the tools must be very sharp, in such a way as to be able to make oblique, clean, sharp cuts without burrs. In essence, we must avoid leaving the filaments uncovered, which would risk attracting potentially dangerous parasites. Specifically, the camellia usually looks like a roundish tree, characterized by large flowers on the branches. Training pruning, in particular, aims to ensure that the camellia, during growth, acquires the desired shape. To accomplish this, all we have to do is remove the diseased, dry or clumsy branches: not only because of an aesthetic requirement, but also because they could give rise to serious diseases.
How to work: the covering
We must begin to work on the plant by first of all shortening the central branch, in a gradual manner: this intervention, called cover, allows the camellia to enrich itself with new branches at the bottom, at the base of the trunk. In order to obtain branches marked by many flowers, the weakest and smallest buds must be thinned, so that only the most vigorous and healthy buds have enough nourishment and space to develop. The sprouts must be eliminated simply with a small knife, making a clean and oblique cut. The camellia must be pruned after it has flowered: therefore, it is not possible to indicate a valid period for all the species, since each variety blooms in a different period.
The maintenance pruning is a procedure aimed at facilitating the lateral ramifications, in the sense that it consists in the removal of the branches that develop towards the interior in order to maintain the desired shape. Also in this case, a clean and oblique cut is applied, at the point above the branch node: in doing so, from the gem exposed to the sun a new twig may develop, which will grow in an external direction. As part of the pruning operations, moreover, it is also possible to proceed with the removal of the cutting: during the summer months, when the new branches have developed at least two or three nodes and have a bright green color, a cut must be made decisive and oblique at the node closest to the main branch. This sprig, at most ten centimeters long, will be planted, buried in a specially prepared substrate, ready to originate a new camellia head. About the pruning of the camellia, it is necessary to deny the legend, widespread but incorrect, which believes that this species should not be pruned. The two interventions, training and cleaning, are in fact fundamental to favor its development. Pruning, through the removal of the apical bud, allows the lower gems to give the camellia a harmonious, more balanced and tighter development.
Pruning for cleaning: aesthetic purposes but not only
On the other hand, it is clear that pruning does not have to be drastic or excessive, but its quality must be assessed according to the development of the plant. For example, there are varieties that generally produce particularly long shoots on a restricted number of branches, and in this case the intervention is mandatory; but there are also varieties that grow bushy and well-groomed already naturally, and in this case pruning is not necessary. In the moment in which we are about to intervene, however, we must remember not to ever prune on a sprig already grown, but always in correspondence of a gem. In this way, in fact, there is no risk of giving the plant a decomposed shape. Pruning for cleaning, on the other hand, can be done at any time, and there are no particular contraindications: in short, at any time a dry branch can be eliminated. Naturally, such an operation must be completed taking into account also certain aesthetic standards: in short, care must be taken not to pierce the crown too much, or risk damaging the exterior of the plant.
Camellia pruning: Beware of pests and insects
Health also plays an essential role, in the sense that a plant that is too rich and dense risks attracting pests and insects considerably, not to mention that it does not allow air and sun to enter as they should. In conclusion, the goal of the camellia pruning is to modify the conformation of the plant in order to lengthen the production cycle and favor a better and faster fruit production. From an aesthetic point of view, a pruned plant is more graceful and proportionate than a plant that has not undergone interventions, but it should not be forgotten that a tree with too many branches risks not letting the most internal ones get the light they need: for this, we must thin them out. Finally, a high quality production is only possible by reaching the right balance between the reproductive phase and the vegetative phase, but above all between roots and foliage.