How To Prune A Camellia And Rhododendron Hedge: Is A Hedge Trimmer OK?

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Camellia and rhododendron bushes make great evergreen hedges and they look especially spectacular when flowering.

We have a camellia and rhododendron hedge alongside one of our greenhouses that flowers vigorously in the spring. It doesn’t get a huge amount of sun because of the greenhouse, so the hedge is more sparse than those that are in full sun.

There is a house and garden that I walk past often that has a 30/40-meter long camellia hedge as a front fence. It’s much thicker and denser than mine as it gets a lot more sun each day.

Anyway, this is how I prune my hedge (it’s mostly camellias with a rhody at one end).

Evergreen Camellia Hedge

evergreen camellia hedge

This is my camellia tree hedge AFTER pruning it – you can see how much I took off it on the ground.

I’ve left it a little bit late as we’re in the last month of winter and the flower buds are forming. It would have been best to get to it a month ago, but there are still plenty of buds left behind.

I used the Dewalt 20v Hedge Trimmer to do most of the work and it does a great job.

With your standard camellia and rhododendron trees, it’s not a great idea to use hedge trimmers. It’s best to use sharp secateurs or pruning shears and do it cut by cut. But you obviously can’t do that with a hedge or it would take days, and it wouldn’t look as good.

Check out the start of the following video to see how I pruned this hedge.

You’ll see that I just prune this camellia hedge the same way you would prune any other hedge.

Battery-powered trimmers are great, especially if you have a large property, because you don’t have to drag around a long cord as with an electric trimmer. Gas trimmers would obviously be OK on this front, but I do prefer the quiet of battery.

If you watched the video, you’ll also see that I used one of my mini chainsaws for trimming the thicker branches up the top that the hedge trimmer wouldn’t have coped with.

Mini chainsaws aren’t actually the best tool for this because they don’t leave a clean cut which can let in disease and lead to fungus problems. It would be better to use some sharp, clean pruning shears. However, we’ve got about an acre of planted gardens, so I just have to get things done as quickly as I can.

I’ve used these same methods for pruning my rhododendron and camellia hedge (and other freestanding trees) and I haven’t had any problems yet. The hedge and trees still appear healthy, they flower well, and bounce back from a prune quickly.

Camellia Hedge Row FAQs

pruning camellia

To finish up, here are a few FAQs about rhododendron and camellia hedges…

Do rhododendrons and camellias make a good hedge?

Yes, I think they do!

While our hedge isn’t the prettiest, that’s mostly because it doesn’t get a huge amount of sun. Other examples that I have seen look amazing.

They do become quite dense so they are good for privacy screening.

Which Camellia is best for hedging?

Camellia Sasanqua is a good variety for hedging because it can grow up to 2-3 meters (6-9 feet) high, it thickens up nicely, and it grows faster than other varieties.

Camellia Japonica is another good camellia for hedges. However, this variety grows a bit slower than Sasanqua.

How far apart do you plant a camellia hedge?

Individual camellia plants/trees should be placed between half a meter to a meter (2 and 3.5) feet apart.

My camellia hedge trees are planted about 3 feet apart and it’s spread out well.

How often should you prune a camellia or rhododendron hedge?

These hedges don’t need to be pruned as often as other types of hedges (I’m thinking pittosporum, for example).

Once a year should be fine for these hedges, and you can selectively prune with secateurs any stray branches sticking out through the year.

How long does it take for a camellia hedge to grow?

To reach a height of 6-feet, it could take over 5 years depending on the variety you’re using.

Let’s just say they are not a fast-growing hedging plant.

How do you maintain a camellia hedge?

If you spend a lot of time out in the garden, you could slowly prune the hedge with secateurs as the new shoots start to develop.

This would save your plant from going through as much stress as my hedge does, but it is a lot more time consuming.

Otherwise, these plants like 3 – 4 hours of sun a day, free draining soil, and they don’t need to be watered very often through the summer (I have never watered mine).

Hedging Camellia

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below, and please share your experiences if you have a camellia hedge.

I’m not an expert gardener, but I’m just sharing my experiences from my garden, so please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong as well!

Thanks for visiting, and check out my DEWALT 20v chainsaw review as well – it’s another very useful tool for gardeners.


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