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The Best Time to Prune Crepe Myrtle

    The Best Time to Prune Crepe Myrtle

    Crepe Myrtles are multi-trunk trees with lovely mottled, peeling bark that thrives in warmer southern states and flower annually on new growth.

    Pruning crape myrtles for aesthetic reasons such as reshaping, removing deep or weak branches, encouraging new growth, or maintaining desired size are among many uses of pruning; however, severe pruning, known as “crape murder,” should be avoided as this practice could damage their overall health and structure.

    Late Winter

    Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are popular summer plants that thrive in hot conditions. These beautiful specimens make beautiful additions to landscapes, forming beautiful illustrations. You can train these trees into single or multiple-trunk trees with three to five trunks. 

    Crepe myrtles require only annual pruning to stay looking their best and maximize flower production – be sure to remove spent blooms, fruit pods, and seed pods that weigh down branches, as well as suckers that form at their bases.

    Pruning in late winter is an ideal way to reshape and prune deep or weak branches, encourage new growth, and maintain size. Pruning helps prevent disease issues like powdery mildew, aphids, and scale insects from attacking during the growing season. 

    Extreme pruning should be avoided as this practice damages trees by delaying dormancy onset and increasing susceptibility to damage during winter.

    Early Spring

    Crepe myrtles make stunning additions to gardens and front yards, providing weeks or months of vibrantly blooming displays in the summer months.

    Michael Dirr, author of Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates, describes them as an ideal flowering shrub in warm environments. 

    When properly pruned, they form graceful canopies with attractive bark and well-spaced trunks – but without proper care, they can become a spindly mass of spindly whips that ensnare passersby!

    Pruning interior branches that cross or crowd each other and diseased or dead wood during late winter and early spring will promote large flowers without diminishing blooming rates the following season. This pruning will contribute to increased blooming.


    Crepe myrtles are beloved plants in many southern yards, providing an array of colorful blossoms every springtime. But pruning can make these magnificent shrubs even better! Taking steps such as taking note of pruning advice from professionals or attending to basic upkeep.

    Crape myrtles do not need regular, light pruning for compactness and health; however, regular, light pruning to control height and shape is required to preserve these beautiful trees. 

    However, excessive or insufficient pruning could result in devastating consequences, even the loss of them altogether.

    Heavy pruning reduces blooms and removes the beautiful mottled bark that gives these plants an appealing appearance.

    Meanwhile, harsh knobbing (the practice of cutting back to thick stubs) causes unsightly stumps and weak whips that cannot support flowers. Instead of this approach, use hand pruners to trim branches under 1/2-inch in thickness, while pole pruners or loppers may be required on more giant trees to cut branches over 1-inch thick. 

    Be wary of suckers, crossing or rubbing branches, as well as branches growing toward their center from expanding outward.


    Crepe myrtle owners frequently make the mistake of overpruning, or what some refer to as “crape murder,” their plants. Not only does this compromise its structural integrity, but it also prevents it from producing flowers and blossoming properly.

    As soon as you start pruning, cut away any dead branches and thin out the middle to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration. Also, cut away seed pods or any unattractive fruits that have fallen.

    Depending upon the cultivar, pruning spent flowers after summer bloom can promote another flush of blooms, but beware not to prune after the third flush of buds has appeared, or you risk impeding new shoot growth for next year.

    After beginning with the bottom of your tree, work up six to eight feet on each side to remove branches that have grown at awkward angles or toward the ground. Cut them back until they meet another branch collar or bud on either trunk side – always do this when pruning back!


    Pruning crepe myrtle at the right time is essential for optimal growth, flowering, and overall plant health. Timing and technique contribute to a flourishing and aesthetically pleasing landscape.

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