Driving around town, one will notice the “Crape Murder” that is committed year after year. Unfortunately, it is a misconception that the correct way to prune Crape Myrtles is to aggressively “hack” them back. This, however, is incorrect and will have long-term effects on your beautiful Crape Myrtle. Pruning Crape Myrtles does not take a seasoned professional, but it does require some research. Follow these steps for proper crape myrtle winter care:
How to Correctly Prune Crape Myrtles
- Most importantly, prune Crape Myrtles between January and February. A good rule of thumb is to prune Crape Myrtles around Valentine’s Day, February 14th.
- Next, find the main stalks of your Crape Myrtle. Some trees may already have 3 – 5 defined stalks and others you may have to “define” them.
- Once you know which stalks are the main trunks of the tree, prune away any that you do not want. Prune at the base of the tree at a 45-degree angle.
- Starting at about eye level, remove any small branches from the trunks. This can be done by taking your hand and running it down the trunk, removing small branches/twigs.
- Remove any crossing branching. This should open up the tree.
- Remove any suckers at the base of the tree (This could have also been completed in step #3.)
- Remove any seed pods from the previous season. Cut about 3-4 inches below the seed pod. This will encourage growth and flowering.
- Once you have completed these steps, take a step back. Seriously. Examine the Crape Myrtle. If you feel that a little more needs to come off of the top, take a couple more inches, but do so sparingly.
If pruning is done incorrectly on Crape Myrtles, it will result in a knob-look on the tree.