How to Prune Crape Myrtles for the Best Blooms

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Many gardeners have a love-hate relationship with their crape myrtles. They hate to prune them, but love the results. Here’s a quick guide on how to prune crape myrtles for the best blooms.

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Introduction

Pruning crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) is a hotly debated topic. Gardeners can’t seem to agree on the “right” way to prune these popular Southern trees. Some say you should prune them severely every year, while others advocate for no pruning at all. The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to pruning crape myrtles. The best course of action is to arm yourself with knowledge about the different pruning methods and then make a decision based on the specific needs of your tree.

The most important thing to remember when pruning crape myrtles is that they respond well to heavy pruning. Don’t be afraid to remove large branches or to completely reshape the tree if necessary. With that said, there are certain times of year and methods of pruning that will produce better results than others. Read on for tips on how to prune crape myrtles for the best blooms.

When to Prune Crape Myrtles
The best time to prune crape myrtles is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This gives the tree time to heal before it has to put out new growth, which can be taxed if the tree has been heavily pruned. That said, you can also lightly trim crape myrtles any time during the growing season if necessary. Just be aware that heavy pruning during the growing season can shock the tree and result in reduced blooming.

How to Prune Crape Myrtles
There are three main methods for pruning crape myrtles: heading cuts, thinning cuts, and renewal cuts. Heading cuts involve removing the tips of branches to encourage branch growth below the cut.”

The Right Time of Year to Prune

The best time to prune your crape myrtle is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. You can prune up to 1/3 of the plant each year without damaging it.

The Right Tools for the Job

Before you start pruning, make sure you have the right tools for the job. You’ll need a sharp pair of bypass pruners and a sharp pair of loppers. You might also want to use a pruning saw for larger branches.

It’s also important to sterilize your pruning tools before you get started. This will help prevent the spread of diseases from one plant to another. To sterilize your pruning tools, simply dip them in a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Let them soak for a few minutes, then rinse them off with clean water.

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In general, crape myrtles should be pruned in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you live in an area with severe winters, you may need to wait until late spring or early summer to prune your crape myrtles, as late frost can damage new growth.

Additionally, if your crape myrtles are affected by powdery mildew or other diseases, you’ll need to wait until the plant is completely dormant before pruning it. This will help prevent the spread of disease.

How to Prune

Pruning crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) at the right time of year encourages bountiful blooms and an attractive shape. The best time for pruning depends on your climate, but generally, it’s recommended that you prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Pruning should be done with sharp, clean pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant. Cut back branches that are interfering with power lines or walkways first. Then, thin out the crown of the plant by cutting back jagged or crossing branches. You can also remove any dead or diseased wood. Finally, cut back any remaining long branches by one-third to one-half their length.

It’s important not to over-prune crape myrtles, as this can stimulate too much new growth and prevent blooming. If you’re unsure how much to prune, it’s best to err on the side of caution and remove only a few branches at a time.

Conclusion

Pruning crape myrtles correctly will ensure beautiful blooms and plenty of growth. Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll be on your way to a healthy, thriving crape myrtle tree.

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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