Crape Myrtle trees require very little pruning. They do not need to be cut back by chopping off the tops of the tree as shown in image on the left. If the tree is cut back to the same height every year, topping can cause large knuckles to form. Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees severely or hard can induce excess vegetation growth such as sprouting at the base, and fewer flowers. Light pruning is recommended by the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees Correctly
Pruning should be done in January or February before new growth begins, so the tree can develop properly by the summer. This will ensure the natural beauty it will display when healthy and vigorous. Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees while dormant will not interfere with blooming, since buds form from new growth.
Prune off any branches that are dead and old seed pods left from last summer. DO Not cut back all branches to the same height by rounding it off. This will ruin the natural form of a Crape Myrtle tree.
Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees is done by, slowly removing one-by-one all side (lateral) branches up to a height of 5-feet or so. Height can depend upon the size of the tree so generally it will be halfway up. Remove any branches in the canopy that are crossing or rubbing another branch.
Cut off branches growing inward towards the center of the tree. All cuts should be made to the trunk (where the branch joins the trunk), or a side branch that is facing out. Sprouts arising from the base of the tree should be removed while still green. Sprouts can be removed anytime of the year as they grow.
Some types of Crape Myrtle trees can grow to be very large trees. If the location you plan to plant at does not have enough space, then choose a type of Crape Myrtle that will fit at mature size. This will avoid having to chop off the tops every year. Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees the right way assures good health and for them to grow to the shape desired.
Author, Kurt Kmetz