Best way to prune this crape myrtle?

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I've had this tree for 30 years and its a fast grower. I think its reached its tallest height. About 5 years ago i had a landscaper prune it to about 7 feet from 20 feet, and you can see the bottom stalks that are pretty, but bare. I wasn't satisfied on how they did it and don't want to repeat that same way that they did. I am not looking for thinning it out, just downward and width wise.

q best way to prune this crape myrtle
  8 answers
  • Marybeth Hails Marybeth Hails on Oct 01, 2018

    I think the beauty of a mature crepe mrytle is supposed to be the long graceful bare branches but if you want fuller and shorter here's my suggestion that will make you shudder. We have literally hundreds of crepe myrtle on our property. If this is your only crepe myrtle you may not want to do this. We literally whack ours back to about 4 or 5 feet early, early spring (after last frost)every few years. They don't bloom quite as profusely the first year but are perfect for another 2 years. It is disdainfully called crepemrytlecide. Not highly recommended by arborist but effective for us. If you are looking for it to fill in try it on one bottom branch leaving it a few inches long. It should sprout multiple small branches which will make it look fuller on the bottom. If you hate it you've only lost one branch. Warning - it is very ugly to look at while waiting for the regrowth

  • Polly Fuller Polly Fuller on Oct 01, 2018

    the crape myrtle is supposed to have long bare graceful trunks with the leaves and flowers exploding like as fountain on top. we are blessed with hundreds of them here in NC and they are all trimmed by taking the suckers out at the base and taking off the branches that grow inward. do that in Feb.

  • Archie Archie on Oct 02, 2018

    I always heard to trim these back every year and so I do. Mine looks great every year and it seems to get fuller every year.

    I trim it back to the main trunks when it stops flowering.

  • Caren Caren on Oct 02, 2018

    Tx A&M says not to trim annually or at all except for dead wood and suckers. You can find info on their website. I have one that is 30+ years old and has never been trimmed except for the suckers and dead wood. Blooms just find, I agree with Polly Fuller.

  • Sophia Clark Sophia Clark on Oct 02, 2018

    Crepe myrtles look terrific when they are NOT pruned annually. Remove suckers and do not disturb the bark. As it exfoliates it will create beautiful patterns and be quite striking. It will also be very attractive in winter. If you want something underneath, while it's low; liriope or mondo grass should grow. Please don't whack them back and try to make them like usual foundation plantings. They probably won't do that, and letting them grow as they want to makes them unusual and striking.

  • Magnolia Mama Magnolia Mama on Oct 02, 2018

    No matter what you do to them, trees will work very hard to reach their natural height. Trying to create a shrub from a mature tree will make you and the tree unhappy. If you must prune, make sure that your pruners or saw are very sharp and clean. Dull blades or those with a build-up of sap create ragged cuts that can encourage disease. Always prune at a natural division where a branch diverges from a larger one; never in the middle of a branch. Whatever you do, PLEASE do not commit "crepe murder" by hacking off mature branches at a uniform height! At each cut, the tree will form an ugly club-like knob that is only appealing to trolls. The poor tree tries to cover its shame by shooting a profusion of spindly branches from the club end.

  • Susan Langley Taylor Susan Langley Taylor on Oct 02, 2018

    I trim the lower suckers all the time...have trimmed the top once and do trimm the lowdragging branches after the rain....mine pretty much look like umbrellas!

  • Pat Pat on Oct 06, 2018

    PLEASE !!!! Stop murdering your crepe myrtles by chopping off the entire top of the tree to the main trunk!!! Lower limbs, suckers, dead wood are fine to trim off! If you live in particularly hot areas decapitating a tree like that are a guaranteed death sentence for it!

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