Pruning Crape Myrtles

Call the Police! A MURDER has been committed…CRAPE MURDER, that is! You’ve seen them around town, with the huge knots and multiple shoots becoming a mass on each branch. Don’t let your beautiful Crape Myrtle be a victim of this pruning crime. The natural shape of these southern landscape specimens, when pruned improperly, is lost!

When you are pruning most trees and bushes, a system of branching like the diagram to the right should be created. From each cut, 2 new branches will sprout. Your goal is to shape your Crape Myrtle, to help it grow naturally, and guess what? When it has reached its mature size…YOU DON’T HAVE TO PRUNE IT ANY MORE.

A critical mistake that is very often made is purchasing a Crape Myrtle that will grow bigger than the space provided. Then, it becomes necessary to prune it every year to keep it within it’s space limitations. This is a problem and ultimately leads to CRAPE MURDER!

The most important fact you need to know when selecting a Crape Myrtle is the mature size. There are many varieties… Dwarf (2-3 ft.), Small (8-10 ft.), Medium (15-20 ft.), and Large (25-30 ft.). Rule #1- Plant one that will fit in your space and be allowed to grow to it’s mature size.

Important Tips to Follow:

  • Prune in late January or February when plants are dormant (asleep, not producing new growth).
  • Never make a cut in the same spot you cut the previous year. You will end up with knuckles and this is the beginning of the destruction of a natural looking Crape Myrtle.
  • Take out any dead branches, or branches that are crossing over too close to others.
  • Remove suckers growing from the base of the tree. Try Bonide Sucker Punch to make this task easier… available in Wingard’s Plant Pharmacy.
  • Remove suckers from existing branches as needed to prevent too much density. Sun and air flow are important to promote healthy foliage and prevent disease.
  • Use GOOD, CLEAN, SHARP clippers. Check out the pruning tools in Wingard’s Gift Shoppe and find exactly what you need!

Click here for a video featuring our Trees & Shrubs Manager, David McNinch, teaching you how to properly trim Crape Myrtle Trees in your yard. There’s a popular slogan that refers to the improper trimming of Crape Myrtles known as “Crape Murder.” Don’t be Crape Murderers.

There’s always something blooming at Wingard’s!