Pruning Crape Myrtles

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles are characteristically low-maintenance species.  Correct pruning is a great way to maintain gracefully fashioned tress and more blooms that are held upright on sturdy branches.  Late winter is the best time to prune a Crape myrtle because it is leafless and you can easily see all its branches.  It blooms on new growth so the flowers come earlier than the unpruned plants.

Pruning 101:

  1. Crape myrtles can grow about 1-2 feet per season so prune based on your desired tree height and keep in mind that new growth will sprout from the pruned areas. If you want the trees at about 6 feet tall prune back to 4- 5 feet.
  2. Stand back and observe how the crape myrtle is growing naturally and look for any sign of damage or disease to be removed. Clipping away the small suckers at the base of the tree and cut branches growing out of the sides horizontally.  Then prune the small limbs from the ground up thinning gout crowded limbs.  Leave only 3-5 of the strongest limbs.
  3. The Crape myrtle has this amazing ability to skin over and repair the places where a branch has been removed
  4. Keep in mind that whatever you prune will grow in both circumference and length every year

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The practice of chopping off the tops of the Crape myrtle “topping off” or Crape Murder” has become a practice common with some home owners.  See our blog post next week, “Crape Murder”, for info on why this practice is giving these beauties a bad rap.

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