Many plants common in home gardens, such as camellias, have adventitious buds, which replace lost or damaged limbs or develop into shoots called suckers, which can generate an entirely new plant. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin received plenty of sunshine and rain during spring
and that has resulted in vigorous growth on the camellias.
The young foliage is beautiful and, if we look closely and
understand how plants respond to pruning, we can use their
growing power to our advantage.
Camellias are pruned after flowering in spring. The growth
produced this season will carry next year's flowers.
Plants usually grow fastest at their uppermost tips, where
hormones stimulate active growth. Removing the apical (top
dominant) buds encourages lower branches to break into
growth, resulting in a bushier plant.
Many plants common in our home gardens, such as camellias,
have adventitious buds. These dormant buds on the stem, or
the root, are often invisible until stimulated into growth.
They are a great survival technique.
Adventitious buds from stems can help plants replace lost or
damaged limbs, while adventitious buds from roots can develop
into shoots called suckers, which can generate an entirely
Coppicing involves reducing a shrub or tree close to the
ground to encourage multi-stemmed regrowth.
As a last resort, this can be a fast solution for a plant
which has completely outgrown its space.
Camellias can tolerate coppicing and respond with vigorous
growth which can need thinning afterwards.
Pruning the camellia collection in the lower garden has
finished this year, and yes, there have been some situations
where we have taken full advantage of those adventitious
- Marianne Groothuis is curator of the camellia
and themes collection at Dunedin Botanic Garden.