Alice G
Alice G
  • Hometalker
  • Palm City, FL
Asked on Aug 7, 2012

Need some advice on Crape Myrtle

Alice GDouglas HuntWalter Reeves
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Answered

Hi all, this is my Crape Myrtle, I have never had one before moving to Florida. It looks a little leggy and scraggly even though its blooming. Question is, when and how much do I prune it when it stops flowering. I have had a few people tell me a lot then a few say just a little can I get some advice on which ?
need some advice on crape myrtle, gardening
13 answers
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Aug 7, 2012

    Early February is generally a good time to prune a crepe myrtle in Florida, Alice. You can technically prune after the leaves fall, but you will risk encouraging new growth that could be damaged by a cold snap. You can also better see the branch structure when the leaves are gone. I would not cut back by more than one-third, and once your tree is in good shape crepe myrtles really need very little pruning. Don't let one of those crepe murderers near your tree!

  • Rebecca B
    on Aug 7, 2012

    I live in Alabama. A lot of people here cut them back. They say they bloom more. My mom and I have several and the only time we cut anything is if a limb is damaged or a limb is in the way of mowing. They bloom beautiful every year and are very tall. I guess it is a matter of what you like. Just my opinion but I agree about the crepe murderers. I love the tall ones in full bloom.

  • Alice G
    on Aug 7, 2012

    Hi Doug, LOL I was just reading about the so called "Crepe Murder " lol Thanks for the tip. I also have an Oleander that I transplanted to the front yard. And its doing well. Do I do the same to that one also? It seems like it never stops blooming which I don't mind at all lol

  • Kay D
    on Aug 7, 2012

    Alice I have the same question. Mine looks a lot like yours. I'm just not sure what to do with it. I see them where the trunks are thick and mine looks like twigs. Lots of flowering around the bottom, no flowering in the middle and then lots of flowering on top. Help!

  • Ellen H
    on Aug 7, 2012

    Hey Doug, do you think her crepe myrtle would benefit from taking it down to 3 trunks instead of what looks like 5 in the picture?

  • Ellen H
    on Aug 7, 2012

    Alice, how long ago did you plant the crepe myrtle?

  • Alice G
    on Aug 7, 2012

    @Ellen I planted it about a year ago this coming Feb

  • Sharron W
    on Aug 7, 2012

    I really don't believe in too much pruning for a crepe Myrtle...they come in variets that only grow 8ft tall and so on....so I personally feel if someone wants a short one they should buy one that's short...that being said; I treat mine by keeping new "suckers" cut off except where I wanted one to "even out" the shape of the tree...Then if a limb gets so long it's hitting the house I may trim it back...and twice in the last 30 years I have trimmed it to "even up" the general structure of the tree canopy. The Trucks are barren of bark because it peeled long ago and I just think it's a beautiful tree....

  • Jan C
    on Aug 8, 2012

    Alice, each main trunk up from the ground should have an "elbow", a knot looking area where smaller branches grow off of. Go 8"-12" above that elbow and prune off the branch. It should be done in late January or February. You can work in a rounding design so when finished it looks like the top of an ice cream ball, or cut it equal in a straight line. You may need to stand back as you prune to get the effect you want. Also, you may want to stake the trunks so there is an equal space between all of them. They are spindly now but they will each eventually get 3"-5" in diameter so keep that in mind when you stake. You don't want them rubbing together as the grow larger. In 2-3 years you can remove the stakes. Cut a hose in 12" lengths and put cord or wire through it and wrap the hose piece around the trunk (so it doesn't get damaged by cord or wire cutting into it as it grows) and then run it down to a stake in the ground out from the roots of the tree. Crepe Myrtles are really beautiful as they mature.

  • Becky H
    on Aug 8, 2012

    Alice, the purpose of pruning a crepe myrtle is for blooms and structure. When encouraging more blooms, you just prune off the spent blooms. When pruning for structure, you want to prune those limbs that cross and rub other limbs; any limbs that crowd your roof or to give yourself head clearance, and any that seem to die on their own. Many people make the serious mistake of cutting their crepe myrtles back to the trunk, encouraging knuckles where new growth tries to pop out every year. They are doing their crepe myrtles a serious disfavor! I have permitted one of my crepe myrtles to tree out; it is currently about 15' tall. I prune it once every year or two as it needs it for good structure.

  • Walter Reeves
    on Aug 8, 2012

    Do you have any idea what variety you have? Our advice might differ if we knew if it was a tree-form or shrub-form crapemyrtle.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Aug 8, 2012

    Alice, since oleanders bloom pretty much year 'round for us, you just have to pick a time when it seems like the blooming has slowed down. Light tip pruning will encourage more blooms.

  • Alice G
    on Aug 9, 2012

    @ Walter I'm not sure what type it is I know the same one is usually used in highway landscaping I see it all over the shopping plaza and malls and Highways

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