Many of us have one or more of these fabulous, summer blooming trees in our landscape, the beautiful crepe myrtle. These are some of the hardiest and giving trees you can find; they are tough in hot summers, provide good fall color and survive through the winter with panache, along with giving us flowers during the warmest times of the year when everything else seems to be melting.
Late winter and early spring is the time to give these lovely trees a haircut since they bloom on new wood. However, this does not involve pruning to the point of leaving the trunks looking like ugly deformed sticks! When a crepe myrtle is pruned so severely it ruins the shape of the tree and the resulting growth is thin and long, not able to support the flowers it produces.
Pruning correctly means removing dead foliage and clearing out the interior of the plant for good air circulation, along with removing lower limbs up to about six feet (unless it’s a dwarf variety) so the trunks are visible. This is good practice as the barks on many varieties have lovely colors and peeling characteristics which provide additional visual interest. Nature’s Friends Landscaping would be happy to help you with this chore, and they can provide additional beautiful varietals if you wish to plant more spectacular crepe myrtles.
If you want to reduce the overall size of the tree, just take two to three feet off the ends of the top branches in late winter. This will leave an overall pleasing shape and won’t leave ugly stubs to produce unsightly whip like stems. You can do a light pruning after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second, lighter bloom.
If you plant more crepe myrtles be sure to locate them where they have room to grow into their mature state, then you reduce your trimming duties and acquire some beautiful trees with four seasons of interest in your garden.