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Your Crepe Myrtle Pruning Guide

how to trim crepe myrtles

To properly prune a crepe myrtle, it’s a good idea to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Remember, you can always go back and cut more, but you can’t undo. A common objective is to create and maintain defined main trunks while thinning out out the smaller growth.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED to get started:

  • Hand pruners for growth and branches less than ½ inch thick.
  • Loppers for branches ½ to 1 ½ inches thick
  • Pole pruner or pruning saw for branches thicker than 1 ½ inches
  • Ladder (if the tree is taller/mature)

WHEN should you cut?

The best time to prune a crepe myrtle is in the late winter time. During this time it will be leafless allowing you to easily see all of the branches. It’s also important to know that trimming at this time of year helps blooming on new growth, which will happen during the Spring. Pruning during late winter won’t reduce blooming, but increases it.

tips on pruning crepe myrtles

WHAT should you cut?

It is easiest to remove branches in the following order:

  1. Remove suckers – remove the sprouts that emerge come up from the base.
  2. Shape the Trunk – remove side branches that grow from the main trunks up to around 4-6 feet.
  3. Thin branches – trim the higher inner branches that grow toward the center.
  4. Remove excess – remove the crossing, rubbing, and dead growth.
  5. Shape – finish up by removing branches or growth that detract from the tree’s appearance.

Additional tips

  • Be sure to trim at an angle.
  • For tall trees, trim high.
  • For bushes, trim low.
  • Trim at least 8 to 12 inches above the “knuckles” if present.

Try to always cut back to the trunk or a larger branch. It’s not a good idea to leave stubs. Removing the seed-heads on the ends of branches isn’t necessary, but optional.

If you have any questions, need some advice or would like some help, reach out, we’re here to help!