How to Prune Crape Myrtle Trees

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Many people are intimidated by the task of pruning crape myrtle trees. However, with a little instruction, it can be easily accomplished. This blog post will provide a step-by-step guide on how to prune your crape myrtle tree.

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The Different Methods of Pruning

Crape myrtle trees are known for their beautiful flowers and vibrant colors, but they can also be a bit tricky to prune. There are a few different methods of pruning crape myrtle trees, and the best method for you will depend on the tree’s age and size. If you’re not sure which method to use, ask a professional tree service for help.

Topping

Topping is the most common method of pruning crape myrtle trees, unfortunately, it is also the worst. Topping removes all the growth at the ends of the branches and forces the tree to produce a large number of new shoots from the stubs. These new shoots are weakly attached to the tree and are often broken off by wind or heavy rains. Topping also removes the beautiful flower buds that form on the tips of the branches, so your tree will not bloom as profusely after topping.

Rejuvenation Pruning

Rejuvenation pruning is a more drastic version of renewal pruning. It’s usually done on older, overgrown crape myrtles that have lost their shape and vigor. Rejuvenation pruning involves cutting the entire plant back to about 2 to 3 feet from the ground. New growth will emerge from the stump, and within a few years, you’ll have a rejuvenated crape myrtle that’s full of vigor and blooms.

Selective Pruning

Selective pruning is the process of removing certain branches or stems, while leaving the rest of the plant intact. This method is often used to control the size or shape of a plant, or to remove diseased or damaged parts. When done correctly, selective pruning can encourage growth in the desired areas and improve the overall health of the plant.

To selectively prune a crape myrtle tree, start by removing any dead, dying, or diseased branches. Then, look for any crossing or rubbing branches and remove one of them. Next, thin out the canopy by removing some of the smaller branches. Finally, cut back any long branches to promote new growth.

The Right Time of Year to Prune

It’s important to prune crape myrtle trees at the right time of year in order to avoid damaging the tree. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, before the tree begins to produce new growth. This will allow you to shape the tree and encourage new growth.

Late Winter

Pruning is an important part of keeping your crape myrtle healthy and looking its best. But when is the best time to prune?

The general rule of thumb is to prune in late winter, just before new growth begins. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If your crape myrtle is suffering from a disease or pest infestation, you may need to prune sooner. And if you live in an area with severe winters, you may want to wait until early spring to prune, so that the trees have a chance to recover from the cold weather before being cut back.

No matter when you prune, be sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears and make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle. Remove any dead or diseased wood first, then shape the tree by selectively removing branches.

Early Spring

The best time for pruning crape myrtle trees is early spring before new growth begins. This allows the tree to heal quickly and focus its energy on new growth rather than repairing damaged areas.Late winter or early spring are also good times to prune because the tree is still dormant and won’t bleed sap if cut.

Late Spring

It’s best to wait until late spring to prune your crape myrtle trees. This will give the trees a chance to put out new growth before you cut anything back. Late spring is also a good time to fertilize your trees.

The Tools You’ll Need

Pruning crape myrtle trees is a detailed process, but with the proper tools, it can be completed successfully. First, you’ll need a sharp pair of pruning shears. Second, you’ll need a saw for larger branches. Third, you’ll need a ladder to reach the higher branches. Finally, you’ll need gloves and a tarp to collect the debris. With these tools in hand, you’ll be ready to prune your crape myrtle trees.

Bypass Pruners

A good pair of bypass pruners is one of the most important tools you’ll need to care for your crape myrtles. Bypass pruners have two sharp blades that slide past each other, much like a pair of scissors. This type of pruner is best for making clean cuts on living tissue, such as green branches. Avoid using bypass pruners on dead or brittle branches, as they can crush or damage the blades.

Loppers

Loppers are long-handled pruning shears with blades anywhere from 12 to 36 inches long. The longer the handles, the more leverage you have, so choose a size based on the size of the tree you’re pruning. You can use loppers to prune branches up to 2 or 3 inches in diameter.

Pruning saws are another option for larger branches. They have a long, narrow blade that can cut through thick branches quickly and easily.

Pole Saw

Pole saws come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one common goal: to reach branches that are too high up for you to comfortably cut with a traditional hand saw. Look for a pole saw with an extendable pole (typically anywhere from 8 to 16 feet) and a comfortable grip. Some models even come with a built-in pruning shear, so you can do all your pruning with one tool.

How to Prune

Crape myrtle trees can be challenging to prune because of their delicate flowers and branches. However, with a little bit of patience and the right tools, you can prune your crape myrtle tree with ease. In this article, we’ll show you how to prune your crape myrtle tree step-by-step.

Topping

Topping is a pruning method in which all branches are cut back to the same length. This leaves stubs that may be susceptible to disease and insect infestation, and also promotes rampant regrowth. Topping should only be used as a last resort, when a tree is so overgrown that it poses a threat to power lines or buildings.

Rejuvenation Pruning

Rejuvenation pruning is a pretty drastic measure, but sometimes it’s the only way to save an overgrown, neglected crape myrtle. You can recognize a crape myrtle in need of rejuvenation pruning if it has more than three trunks, is taller than you want it to be, or if it hasn’t been pruned in many years. When you do this type of pruning, you’re basically starting over from scratch, so be prepared to shape the tree the way you want it to look.

Here’s how to go about rejuvenation pruning:

1. First, remove any dead or diseased wood. Cut these branches back to the point where they branch off from a larger branch or the trunk.

2. Next, cut back all of the remaining branches to about 18 inches from the ground or main trunk. This may seem drastic, but it’s necessary in order for the tree to produce new growth.

3. Once you’ve cut back all of the branches, you can then start shaping the tree the way you want it to look. Start by removing any branches that are growing inwards towards the center of the tree or that are crossing over other branches. Then, shorten any long branches so that they are in proportion with the rest of the tree.

4. When you’re finished shaping the tree, water it well and apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree. This will help protect the roots and new growth from extreme temperatures and drought conditions.

Selective Pruning

Selective pruning is the process of selectively removing certain branches or stems, while leaving the rest of the plant intact. This type of pruning is typically done to improve the plant’s appearance, encourage fruiting or flowering, or to remove damaged or diseased tissue.

To selectively prune a crape myrtle tree, start by looking at the plant as a whole and identify any areas that you want to improve. Once you have a general idea of what you’d like to do, take a closer look at each individual branch and stem, and decide which ones to remove. When making your cuts, be sure to use clean, sharp pruning shears and make cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a leaf node (the point where leaves are attached to the stem).

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books