STOP! Read This Before You Prune Your Crape Myrtles!
January 30, 2020
It’s the time of year that the annual pruning, or rather topping, of crapemyrtles begins. Many are under the erroneous assumption that crape myrtles either require this type of extreme pruning or that it will make the plants bloom heavier. Unfortunately topping leaves many of these beautiful plants gnarled and stunted. As such, you may have even heard the practice referred to as “crape murder”!
Often, people top trees because they have either grown too large for the space in which they were planted. Some think it will make the plants grow better or produce more flowers. But, when it comes to crape myrtles they bloom profusely without any extreme pruning.
If your crape myrtle isn’t blooming as heavily as you want, it’s probably getting too much shade. Crape myrtles are full sun plants. If they are planted in too much shade, flowers will significantly decrease (as will foliage) and pests such as aphids and fungal diseases are more likely to be a problem. Topping the plants won’t solve the shade problem.
If you’re topping your crape myrtle because it’s too big for your space, know you don’t have to top it - you can have it pruned for size reduction just as you would any other tree. You don’t need to remove the entire canopy, which results in unsightly knobs along the trunks of the plant. Or, it might be time to remove the crape myrtle and plant a smaller growing specimen. Know that there are many varieties of crape myrtles that grow from only 1-ft tall up to 40-feet tall. Plenty of size options to choose from in between!
Crape myrtles are one of the best flowering trees and shrubs for our region, but in order to truly enjoy them in all their splendor, minimize the pruning. Minimal pruning is needed to maintain the beautiful, vase-like shape when plants are allowed to grow to their natural size and shape. But if crape myrtles do need pruning, here is how to do so properly:
- It’s okay to remove any suckers sprouting from the base of the plant.
- You can remove dead seed heads and stems from the previous year’s flowers.
- Prune out crossing branches, also any damaged or disease branches.
- Thin out branches that are smaller than the size of a pencil.
If you have beautiful crape myrtles that need a little shaping or size reduction, give us a call and we can help you maintain their beauty. Then, share this blog with your friends and neighbors & help us save these beautiful flowering trees!
Posted: January 30, 2020