How and when to prune crape myrtle trees

The blooms of the crape myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia species) appear for an extended time during the summer. Crape myrtles with pink blooms are popular, but there are varieties of this deciduous tree with blooms of white, red or purple. Depending on the variety, crape myrtle trees can grow 10 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. Crape myrtle grows and blooms best when planted in full sun, even in southern climates.

Reasons to prune crape myrtle

Removing a branch that is broken, diseased or a sucker, taking out a branch rubbing against another branch, or cutting back a branch that is affecting foot or vehicle traffic are some reasons to prune the tree. A crape myrtle does not need pruning if situations like this do not exist.

When to prune crape myrtle

Late winter to early spring pruning will stimulate new growth. Pruning once new growth appears can impact the density of blooms. Prune broken or diseased branches as soon as they develop.

How to prune crape myrtle

Prune crape myrtle in the same fashion as pruning other trees. You may need hand pruners, loppers or a hand saw. Snip suckers, which are thin vertical shoots, close to the branch or trunk. Suckers growing from the ground can result in new trunks, so snip only the weaker suckers or those close to the main trunk if additional crape myrtle trees are desired. Tree branches growing outside the desired shape of the tree and that are reachable from a ladder can be cut close to a main branch using loppers or a saw. When branches cross, identify the branch that adds the most beauty to the structure of the tree’s canopy and cut out the other branch.

Pruning broken or diseased branches

When removing a broken or diseased branch, make the cut about 6 inches into the healthy part of the branch.

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