How to Prune Crepe Myrtles for Optimal Growth

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Pruning your crepe myrtle is important for its health and vigor. Learn how to prune your crepe myrtle for optimal growth.

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Pruning crepe myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) is necessary to control their size and shape, as well as to encourage new growth. But, if you don’t know how to prune crepe myrtles correctly, you can actually do more harm than good. Read on for some tips on how to prune crepe myrtle trees for optimal growth.

Before you start pruning, it’s important to understand how crepe myrtle trees grow. Crepe myrtles are classified as “heavy-to-medium” pruning types, which means that they respond well to heavy pruning. In fact, heavy pruning is often necessary to prevent crepe myrtles from becoming overgrown and unruly. However, it’s important not to over-prune crepe myrtles, as this can damage the tree and cause it to produce fewer flowers.

The best time to prune crepe myrtles is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This way, you can remove any dead or damaged branches and encourage new growth. When pruning, always make sure to use sharp, clean cutting tools to avoid damaging the tree.

There are three main types of crepe myrtle cuts: heading cuts, thinning cuts, and renewal cuts. Heading cuts are made on the main branches of the tree (known as “scaffold branches”), and they involve removing a portion of the branch tips. Thinning cuts are made on secondary branches (or “lateral branches”), and they involve removing entire branches back to the main trunk or scaffold branch. Renewal cuts are made on Older wood (3 years old or more), involves completely removing a branch back its point of origin on the trunk or scaffold branch. This type of cut encourages vigorous new growth from the point of origin.

When making heading cuts, always cut just above a bud or leaf node (the point where leaves emerge from the stem). This will encourage new growth in that area. When making thinning cuts, choose branches that are crossing or rubbin against each other, as well as any that are weak, diseased, or otherwise damaged. When making renewal cuts,, always cut back to a bud or leaf node so that new growth emerges from that point.

It’s important not to over-prune your crepe myrtle trees — remove no more than one-third of the tree’s total branches each year. This will ensure that your trees remain healthy and vigorous while still being able to produce an abundance of beautiful flowers come summertime!

What You’ll Need

-Pruning shears
-Eye protection

The Basic Steps

Pruning crepe myrtles is not as difficult as it might seem, and following a few simple steps will ensure optimal growth for your plant. The most important thing to remember is to never top a crepe myrtle – this will encourage rampant, uncontrolled growth that is both unsightly and dangerous.

Here are the basic steps for pruning a crepe myrtle:

1. Wait until the plant is dormant – this is typically in late winter or early spring.
2. Remove any dead or diseased wood first, cutting it back to healthy tissue.
3. Next, remove any crossed or rubbing branches, as well as any branches that are growing into the center of the plant (these are called “suckers”).
4. Finally, thin out the remaining branches (called “selective pruning”), removing no more than 1/3 of the total branches. This will encourage new growth and help maintain the plant’s natural shape.

While pruning may seem like a daunting task, following these simple steps will ensure that your crepe myrtle grows healthy and strong for years to come!

More Advanced Pruning

If your crepe myrtle has already been pruned heavily in the past, you may need to do some more advanced pruning to encourage new growth. This type of pruning is often necessary after a storm or other event that has caused damage to the tree.

First, remove any dead or damaged wood. Cut these branches back to the point where they branch off from a healthy part of the tree. Next, thin out the canopy of the tree by removing some of the smaller branches. This will help promote new growth and allow more sunlight to reach the inner branches. Finally, cut back any remaining branches by one-third to promote new growth.

When to Prune

Pruning is an important part of maintaining a crepe myrtle. The best time to prune your crepe myrtle is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This will help ensure that your crepe myrtle has the opportunity to put all its energy into new growth, rather than healing wounds from pruning.


Key Takeaways
-Pruning should be done in the late winter or early spring, before the plant breaks dormancy and begins to produce new growth.
-The general rule of thumb is to prune 1/3 of the plant each year, but you can remove up to 2/3 of the plant if necessary.
-Be sure to clean your pruning tools before and after use to avoid spreading disease.

Pruning crepe myrtles is a necessary part of caring for these beautiful plants. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your crepe myrtles will continue to thrive for many years to come.

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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


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