Everyone has an opinion on the best way to care for and prune a crepe myrtle. Knowing when, and the correct way, to prune these popular trees can be confusing, even for those who have a green thumb.
Crepe myrtles are such as popular landscaping choice in our area because they can be tailored to your preferences – you can grow them tall or wide, or really however you choose; but there are some fundamental guidelines to pruning them. Here are a few basic tips to help you manage your crepe myrtles before the beginning of spring.
Do You Even Need to Prune Your Crepe Myrtles?
This is a valid question, and one you should ask before you’re armed with loppers, and ready to start chopping. You may not need to prune your crepe myrtles, especially if you pruned them last year. You don’t have to prune your crepe myrtles at all. In fact, as some enthusiasts are strictly against it. Pruning is not necessary for the health of the tree. However, pruning helps manage growth and shape, and it can create a fuller bloom, especially on a younger tree.
When You Should Prune Your Crepe Myrtle
When you should prune a crepe myrtle depends on where you live, but you should always attempt to wait until after the final freeze of the year. In north Florida, mid-to-late winter is the best time to prune your crepe myrtles, so you’ll likely want to wait until February, while the plant is still dormant from the winter and hasn’t added any new growth.
Best Pruning Practices for your Crepe Myrtle
Despite what you may have seen throughout your neighborhood, excessive pruning is not typically recommended. This consists of cutting back all larger branches to the point where the tree is short and stubby, before new growth occurs.
While flowers bloom on new growth, cutting your crepe myrtles back too far grows thinner, weaker branches. These branches often fail to support the flowers when your crepe myrtle blooms, causing them to sag and the tree to lose shape. Overpruning can also lead to fewer blooms.
Here are a few tips on pruning your crepe myrtle:
- Cut the “suckers” — sprouts that typically grow from the base or bottom of the tree.
- If trunks are overgrown near the bottom, keep no more than five and remove the others.
- Remove any dead or weak branches.
- Cut branches growing too low, crossing, rubbing, growing inward or at awkward angles inconsistent with the rest of the tree.
- Trim branches keeping the way you want your tree to grow in mind, such as rounded, straight up or outward.
Having a fresh look for your yard is a good way to bring in the spring, and crepe myrtles are a great place to start. If you need help pruning your trees or shrubbery, contact C&A Landscape at (850) 329-0621 or online.