Pruning a Crape Myrtle

DO NOT COMMIT CRAPE MURDER!!!

Why is it important to prune them the correct way? Well, there are several reasons and here are a few.

Pruning them incorrectly turns these beautiful trees into ugly looking stumps. It also prevents a pretty formation of bark on the trunks. You’ll begin to see skinny whip like shoots sprout from the end of each ugly stump. Once this happens, they are then too weak to hold up flowers, and the branches will often bend to the ground and break.

Another reason people prune them this way is because they say the tree gets too big. If you are wanting to plant a Crape Myrtle be sure not to plant it in front of a bay window or anywhere where it could eventually outgrow the area. Most Crape Myrtle species can grow to at least 25 to 30 ft tall and 5 to 15 ft wide.

The Goal:

Before you begin pruning, make sure you understand the end goal. If you don’t like how it looks you can always cut more, you can’t go back. What you are trying to accomplish is maintain well-spaced, main trucks with nice bark and to thin out the middle enough for a bird so easily fly through. 

When to Prune:

The best time to start pruning a Crape Myrtle would be around late February to early March. This is because the tree is leafless, and more easily see the branches. Crape Myrtles bloom on new growth so pruning won’t reduce the quantity of blooms. It may increase them!

What to Prune:

  • Suckers coming up from the bottom
  • All side branches growing from the main trucks up to a height at least 4 feet
  • All crossing, rubbing, and dead branches
  • Branches growing at an awkward angle that detracts from the tree’s appearance

Capstone Landscape Management Team

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