Trimming your Crape Myrtles


Don’t let the controversy of how to prune your Crape Myrtles prevent you from taking care of them!

You’ve probably noticed everyone is pruning their Crape Myrtles this time of year. We love the pretty, colorful blooms they provide for that extra Spring time pop of color. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of debate surrounding Crape Myrtle pruning that can sometimes deter people from pruning their Crape Myrtles at all. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide on your Crape Myrtle pruning.

Is it time to prune your Crape Myrtles?

If you are looking for new blooms – Yes, prune them.

When was the last time you had them pruned – If you pruned your Crapes in the Fall they won’t need a trim now, they have buds ready to bloom in the Spring. Only the new growth each year is what produces blooms. This means that every year you skip pruning them will result in less and less blooms. If you had your Crapes pruned last year, a light trim, removing deadwood and raising the canopy is recommended.

How old is your Crape Myrtle – Recently planted Crape Myrtles shouldn’t be pruned. Over pruning any young tree or woody shrub can have detrimental effects such as excessive waters sprouts, suckers and weak branch attachments.

Should you top or raise your Crape Myrtles?

Here’s where it gets tricky.

Topping as defined by ANSI (Approved American National Standard)- Reduction of tree size by cutting live branches and leaders to stubs, without regard to long-term tree health or structural integrity.

It’s hard to imagine topping Crape Myrtles could shorten its lifespan, especially if you’ve been doing it for years. They are tough trees that can withstand “Crape Murder” but there are side effects you’ve probably noticed.

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Topping causes suckers. Suckers are the little sprouts that shoot up at the base of your Crape and can be a pain to prevent them from continually popping up all year.

Generally, we recommend people refrain from topping their Crape Myrtles unless it has been done in the past. But, it’s your tree, it’s your landscape – do what’s best for your yard. 

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