How do you prune crape myrtles?


Quick Answer

To prune crape myrtles, leave an odd number of main trunks as they are, clip weak branches, encourage growth in different directions and cut all branches and excess trunks as far back as possible. It is not necessary to "top" crape myrtles, as this encourages uneven growth.

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Full Answer

Use sharp, well-lubricated pruning sheers on crape myrtles to avoid "ripping" the bark.

  1. Choose main trunks
  2. The most aesthetically pleasing arrangement of crape myrtles trunks is an odd number between three and seven. Eliminate all other trunks by cutting them all the way back to the soil.

  3. Clip weak branches
  4. Eliminate thin branches that might not be able to support blossoms. Additionally, choose a preferred height for the tree and prune all branches below it. For example, if the crape myrtle grows next to a walking path, prune all branches below eight feet to prevent growth from obstructing the walkway.

  5. Choose directions for branches
  6. Eliminate branches that are growing in the same direction. This prevents flowers from growing into one another in the spring.

  7. Prune branches and trunks thoroughly
  8. To avoid unsightly stumps, prune all branches and trunks as far back as possible. This creates a more uniform appearance and discourages insect activity, especially in low cuts with easy access to the soil.

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