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Pruning Crape Myrtles

Pruning Crape Myrtles

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 when pruning your Crape Myrtle:

How to Correctly Prune Crape Myrtles

  1. Most importantly, prune Crape Myrtles in February – no earlier. A good rule of thumb is to prune Crape Myrtles around Valentine’s Day, February 14th.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove any crossing branching. This should open up the tree.
  6. Remove any suckers at the base of the tree (This could have also been completed in step #3.)
  7. Remove any seed pods from the previous season. Cut about 3-4 inches below the seed pod. This will encourage growth and flowering.
  8. 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.

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