Unless damaged by frost, a crepe myrtle generally doesn't require much pruning. This guide is about pruning a crepe mrytle tree.
By Tom Loucks 1
I planted a crepe myrtle tree last fall, it is about 8 feet tall and does not appear to need pruning or shaping.
If I do not prune it will it have flower blooms? Or does it need to be pruned to create the flower blooms?
Hardiness Zone: 9b
By Tom from Thousand Oaks, CA
January 21, 2011
Crepe Myrtle trees are planted for both the flowers and the beauty of the trunk. Incorrect pruning, "Crepe Murder" is the widespread practice of topping trees that should grow between 20 and 30 feet tall. This is incorrect and will eventually damage the tree, not to mention make it ugly most of the year. If you want to see over it, then buy a bush or a dwarf variety. Topping does not produce more blooms. Proper pruning removes unwanted trunks and branches from the inside. If you want to see through it, that's fine, but don't remove the top beyond reachable spent flowers.
I had my crepe myrtle cut back and now I keep getting new growth all the way up the trunk. It is a tree form and I don't want it to start growing except toward the top not from ground up on trunk. What can I do? I have cut them off, but they keep coming back. I live in Texas and there is a lot of sun.
By Pat R
September 27, 2015
You've done irreparable damage to the tree by topping it. It will never be the same. You can let the suckers continue to grow and have a large bush. Or, you can remove the tree and plant another. Decide how high you want the tree to be and buy one that will grow to that height and width. Give it proper space and you may not have to ever prune it. But, if you do, them do it as you would a dogwood or any other deciduous blooming tree. There's a lot of good information on how to properly prune trees on the net.
By Nancy E. 1
I have a crepe myrtle tree that looks like it started growing sideways, is there anyway I can trim or prune it so that it will grow up straight?
I live in Zone 7-8 when is the best time for pruning it?
By Nancy from central AL
September 27, 2015
There is no 'best' time. If you top it then you'll have sucker growth from below, and for every sturdy limb you cut back you'll have three or more weak whips sprout. If it's crooked maybe you need to remove a limb or two back to the trunk.
I have 3 crepe myrtle trees on the south side of my house. The bark on all 3 trees is gone, just dried up and fell off I guess. The plants seem tall and spindly with very little leaf or flower growth. What could this be and should I prune back the trees dramatically? Please let me know what I can do.
By Dawn B.
I was told to clip the green berries off to produce more flowers. I thought those were the pods that bloom.
I am not of the Pollard school of thought regarding crepe myrtles. I want a large open arching tree. I am also a neat-nik. If I remove the green berries (November) will I get fewer or more blooms? I prefer fewer blooms (less mess and berries), how do I achieve that?
September 27, 2015
I suppose that might work but how can you get to them? If you remove only the flower buds that should be fine. They are very messy trees dropping spent blossoms, seed pods, peeling bark, and leaves in the fall. But they're some of the most beautiful trees as well with their smooth shiny bark and sculptural limbs.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
LORRAINE from LINDENHURST
Flowers are produced on new growth, so it's best to prune in the late winter or early spring while the tree is still dormant (February through April). Occasionally, Crepe Myrtle trees can also be encouraged to produce a second flush of flowers by lightly pruning them immediately after the first flowers fade. Keep in mind that heavy pruning isn't necessary to promote vigorous flowering. Light pruning is better. "Crepe Murder" is the amusing expression used to describe the wide spread, late winter mutilation of Crepe Myrtle trees commonly committed by well-intentioned gardeners each spring. Many gardeners and landscapers wait too long to prune. When vigorous growth results in heavy, yet weak (and broken) branches, they start to lop off the tree's limbs in an effort to control growth and fix its appearance. This practice of overzealous pruning almost always results in a proliferation of knobby stumps and crowds of sprouting suckers that over time, work to completely diminish the lovely flowing appearance of the tree. A regular regime of light pruning in various places will prevent this, while invigorating the tree and improving its overall strength. And while pruning isn't required for the health of your tree, a complete lack of pruning usually results in a weak spindly tree with fewer flowers. It's best to pick a variety that will grow to your desired height, and then prune it lightly to maintain its size. If necessary, remove limbs from inside the tree's canopy that cross or hang too low, by removing the entire branch so that it's flush with the tree's trunk. Remember that any stubs you leave while pruning will encourage new shoots.
Don't know about your area, but anytime the tree seems dormant especially, OR just after it blooms out in the Spring, remove all dead branches and old bloomed out stems. Caution: Do NOT cut in the middle of a branch. You will NOT be please with the results. Best to remove the entire branch if you need. Cut it flush with it's parent branch. If you are shaping into a tree, just remove the lower stems at the absolute base of connection to the trunk so the wound can heal over, and keep
enough branches on it, if a newer tree, to keep it growing. Each year you can remove a few more until.
Remember that the trees WILL produce other tree off-spring from the "saplings" nearby and underground roots. If you want them, let them live, otherwise be persistent in cutting them back. Do NOT plant Crepe Myrtles near foundations or concrete because they will lift and crack it. Give them about 10-12 feet from foundations/walks. I made this mistake and am suffering the consequences of a tilted walk. This actually goes for most ANY tree, especially if they are invasive and have tough large roots.
I believe it would be prudent to paint any cut larger than 3" wide with pruning paint, but carefully, as the bark is light and the paint is black and ugly. It helps prevent unsightly dark grey healing. I know of no pests that attack Crepe Myrtles in Texas, zone 8. Good luck and God bless. (08/19/2006)
What is the best way to remove dead branches from crape myrtles? Should I cut at the base, or higher up if it is green?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Jwagner from Abilene, Texas
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I planted a Crepe Myrtle tree 4 feet from my house. It's 4 years old now. Should I be worried the roots will do damage to the foundation of my house? It has grown higher than the roof line. How much should I cut back? It has never been pruned. Thanks.
Don't prune it, keep an eye on it, and if it needs to be moved eventually, then move it. If a root ran under the foundation and you were moving it, you would just cut that root off. It wouldn't grow, not like a root of a Chinese Wisteria. If you have a well-watered lawn out front of it, the major roots will move that direction and you'll be fine. Don't be irrationally afraid of a tree that's taller than the roofline like people where I live. They butch the top off any tree that puts its head up. A distorted landscape that makes me not want to look at trees like that. (04/01/2009)
I have some Crepe Myrtles in my yard and I would like to keep them short. What shall I do?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
By ladyinpinkm4 from Birmingham, AL
When should I prune a crepe myrtle? We had a hard frost for 5 nights, but it was above freezing during the day.
Hardiness Zone: 9a
By Dotty from Kingwood, TX
Now is a good time to prune all trees etc., good luck. (01/26/2010)
I planted crepe myrtles this past summer. I need to know when and how to trim them. I have 26 trees along my driveway.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By blondie58 from Omaha, TX
Don't butcher the tree as so many mowing crews do. If you want one trunk, prune away the others. If you want multiple trunks, just prune the limbs that cross. Make sure you check the variety and see what the mature size will be in case they are planted too close together. I planted twigs 20 years ago and now they are taller than my house.
This photo was taken after a Texas ice storm in March 2007, but the crepe myrtles were not damaged. (01/07/2011)
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