Crepe Myrtle Pruning
Posted on Dec 21st, 2015
Though the practice of topping was started with the intent of encouraging the tree to produce more flowers, this is generally unnecessary for newer cultivars as they are selected for long blooming seasons without the need for pruning. Over-pruned trees also demonstrate the tendency to delay flowering for as much as a month compared to un-pruned crape myrtles, and blooms develop on branches that are thinner and weaker. Crape myrtles retain permanent scars from pruning cuts, and these areas become structural weak points for the remainder of the life of the tree.
“Overgrown” or “misshapen” crape myrtles are more likely issues stemming from an inappropriate cultivar selected for the landscaping space provided. Crape myrtle cultivars are available in manydifferent shapes and sizes - including dwarf varieties. If you are over-pruning your tree because it has become too large for the space, you may want to consider ending the cycle and replanting with asmaller species that is more appropriate for the space constraints.
If your landscapers will be performing maintenance on your trees in the next few months, ask them about their pruning techniques before allowing them to top your crape myrtles. Don’t assume all landscapers are experts in pruning!
Is it too late this season, and your tree has recently taken on an appearance similar to the photo above? Rehabilitation is possible over the next few seasons with a little patience. When sprouts appear from the pruned areas in the spring, choose the strongest two or three sprouts and remove the remaining sprouts. This will encourage the remaining sprouts to grow back stronger and healthier.