Asked on Jun 23, 2013

Crape Myrtle Question

CherieVirginiaNancy Rhodes C


I'm not to familiar with this type of tree. Does anyone know where I should prune it .Top it off at half or 1/3. I see many around here that are perfectly round But not sure where to prune the branches
This was last years photo of it
This is what it looks like now
17 answers
  • Luis
    on Jun 23, 2013

    The best time to trim crapes in is late winter or early spring - just prior to new growth emerging. Iuse this that I picked from e-How maybe it will help you. 1Remove any suckers that are growing from the base of your crape myrtle. Suckers --- also called watersprouts --- grow at the bottom of the crape myrtle trunk. They are often easy to remove with your hands. If left on, they will make your crape myrtle tree start to resemble a bush more than a tree.2 Cut away any side branches that are coming out of the base of the tree that are at least 4 feet long. Cut them down to where they intersect with the tree, known as the knuckle. Never cut below the knuckle. 3Remove any branches up high that are starting to grow inward. Remove them with a pole pruner, which allows you to reach high branches.4Cut off any dead branches. In addition, remove any branches that are rubbing against or crossing over each other. Remove any that are growing at odd angles or that you feel detract from the appearance of the tree

  • Vicki
    on Jun 23, 2013

    I do not prune top but bottoms to open see from ground up to 4 feet. mine does not grow tall but abt 7 feet tall which is fine with me as long as ground up to 4 feet bare.

  • Barbara Sherman
    on Jun 23, 2013

    Prune at the joints and only in February. Trim the sucker branches off as well.

  • Gls187717
    on Jun 23, 2013

    Any ornamental tree should not be topped off. That's an unwritten ornamental horticulture rule. I agree that pruning at the joints and trimming the suckers off the trunk is the thing to do. Yes, only prune in early spring or late winter. :) This kind of ornamental tree sheds its bark on a yearly basis, it is natural for it to do each year.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 24, 2013

    Crepe myrtles need far less pruning than they often get. The University of Florida has all the hows and whys here:

  • Barbara Sawyer
    on Jun 24, 2013

    I have a young tree and the lower suckers keep returning after I have cut them off, all during the summer. Should I keep trimming them off as they grow, or wait during the cold months or is there a paint or liquid I could put on them to stop growing?

  • Cynthia
    on Jun 24, 2013

    Some actually should be kept in the shape of a shrub with lower branches. Whatever you do never perform Crape Murder on them. See picture for correct way to prune. Where I live in GA it's hard to find beautiful natural crepes. Everyone hacks them off with chain saws and they grow back so deformed and ugly! After a few years they die off.

  • Lgsmith
    on Jun 24, 2013

    Older type of Crepe Myrtle's are not shrubs but are trees. One CM at a house in Natchez, Ms. has a trunk over 4 feet around. Never never cut your CM from the top, just keep the suckers cut off.

  • Charlotte MacDiarmid
    on Jun 24, 2013

    I don't like to cut any of my crepe myrtle because it all has lovely blooms/flowers on the ends of the limbs. It has gotten quite tall because it is reaching for the sun. I just let it grow.

  • Barbara Sawyer
    on Jun 25, 2013

    Thanks Douglas Hunt for the reference at UF it answered all my questions.

  • Carolyn Richrath
    on Jun 25, 2013

    This is the first time I have seen any information on crepe myrtle. I have been trying to grow one for 3 years. It comes up each year from the bottom with new shoots. I leave the old one thinking the new shoots would be helped for stability. It has never gotten more than 3.5 tall before winter sets in. I am thinking northen Illinois isn't conducive to growing crepe myrtle. Any ideas?

  • Mary-Jo Jensen-Schramm
    on Jun 25, 2013

    My understanding is (and from what I've seen) the Mason-Dixon Line is about as far north as crepe myrtles will grow with any success.

  • Chris P
    on Jun 25, 2013

    My folks in NJ have Crepes. They usually give them a good cutting March up there, and by good I mean what people are saying here, nothing to drastic.

  • Marie Worley
    on Jun 25, 2013

    If you want a tree, prune it from the bottom and shape it. I have one and it is beautiful like this. If you want a bush, leave it alone and it will become a very large bush. I have been told to never top them but I do have friends that do and their plants are still going strong, just not as tall and full.

  • Nancy Rhodes C
    on Jun 25, 2013

    Let it grow to the heavens and just keep the new shoots, suckers, off as you would any tree. If you start pruning then you have a job every year. The tree is beautiful if left alone in it's splendor. You have heard of Crape MURDER? Please do not do that.

  • Virginia
    on Jun 25, 2013

    ^ girls all got it. You really are not suppose to "top" them. Do what Cynthia said.

  • Cherie
    on Nov 11, 2013

    Cynthia - they do that as well here in Texas and it should be a crime. As far as growing in colder areas, my neighbor in St Louis, Mo had one that she cut to the ground every year in an effort to kill it and bless it's heart, it would come back every year to spite her!!! And it was beautiful! Go figure!

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