If you’ve got a camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) growing in your lawn, you probably are aware that it’s named for the camphor fragrance its leaves provide off when crushed. The tree only requires light pruning from time to time, however when your tree is outgrowing its area or its dense shade is preventing grass from growing in the area, you can prune if back severely and expect powerful new growth to look, as long as you prune at the ideal time and give the tree some extra care after trimming.
Choosing a Time
Evergreen camphor tree has glossy green leaves. It could possibly be 65 or 70 feet tall when older and, like most broad leaf evergreens, it tolerates heavy trimming, or renewal pruning, rather well. This is especially true if pruning is done in early spring, when the tree is already consented to put out a fresh flush of spring growth After spring pruning, tree wounds also tend to heal relatively quickly because the tree is actively growing. It’s not a good idea to do heavy pruning in fall or summer, because hot summer weather can stress the tree and slow fresh growth, while tender limbs which appear after fall pruning are easily damaged from winter’s cold.
Minimizing Tree Damage
When pruning back divisions on a camphor tree, use freshly sharpened pruning shears to avoid tearing the bark and damaging the tree branches. For high divisions, use a pole pruner with a sharp saw or pruning blade. Wash your pruning blade thoroughly with rubbing alcohol between each cut, to prevent the spread of plant diseases. To decrease the tree’s height, then trim back branches in the outer portions of the canopy. To thin the tree and generally lessen the dense shade under it, remove one of every three or four side branches from its major limbs. Make slanted cuts just ahead of the branch collar, which is the thickened area of bark close to a division’s origin. When shortening small side branches, cut each 1 back into a side branch or cut about 1/4 inch above of a side grass; that helps encourage growth of a new shoot behind the fresh cut.
Giving Extra Care
When you have pruned a camphor tree, minimize shock to the tree by giving it a little extra care can help encourage healthy new development. Add three or four inches of organic mulch like straw or shredded bark into the ground below the tree canopy, to help conserve moisture and keep down weeds. Keep the mulch back about 6 inches from the trunk to stop constant moisture against the bark, which can encourage fungal growth. During dry spells, provide the tree extra water, aiming to get about 1 inch of water per week, containing rain. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to minimize runoff of water and make sure the soil is thoroughly moistened.
Plannng Long Term
Camphor tree grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 and is fast-growing, adding about 2 feet into its width and height each year. Although it grows quickly, it may be best to propagate heavy pruning out over several years, rather than doing all the pruning in one season. Prune some development during the current spring, then observe the tree’s response to choose how soon to prune again. If new development is strong and vigorous, you can safely prune the tree each spring, until you achieve the desired outcome. But when the tree’s response to pruning is slow or new development only appears on a few divisions, wait a year or two to provide the tree a few extra recovery period prior to repeating the pruning process.