How to Prune a Crepe Myrtle

crepe_myrtleCrepe Myrtles are ornamental trees with pink, white or purplish crinkled petals. They are beautiful to look at. Many people, however, prune them incorrectly. In this article, we’ll talk about how to prune a crepe myrtle. If you still have questions or don’t think you can handle it yourself, call us at Austin Tree Service at (512) 341-8888. We can do it for you.

When are trying to prune a crepe myrtle, you should maintain its natural sculptural form. You want the crepe myrtle to produce strong branches that hold the flowers upright and open up its center to reveal the smooth, multi-toned bark that forms on mature trunks and branches. If you cut it back to thick stubs, that makes these goals impossible.

Follow these guidelines to prune a beautiful crepe myrtle:

  • Prune in late winter. Some say February is ideal. Why? That’s because there are no flowers at this time so you can more easily see the branches.
  • Remove suckers at the base, crossing or rubbing branches, and branches growing inward toward the center of the plant.
  • Cut back to another branch to just above the outward-facing bud on the branch or to what’s called the branch collar. The branch collar is a swollen area where the branch joins the trunk. You should never leave lone or clustered stubs. It just looks wrong.
  • Try to remove the unwanted branches before they get thicker than a pencil.
  • It’s okay but not really necessary to cut off old seed heads.

Now, if you butcher the plant, we suggest you ask for professional help. We, at Austin Tree Service, can help restore a butchered crepe myrtle. It takes time and patience on your part, but we can do it. We may have to cut the plant to the ground. Don’t worry – it will grow back relatively quickly. Within 3-5 years, you’ll have a blooming and beautiful crepe myrtle again with some tender loving care.

Call us today at 512-341-8888 so you don’t commit crepe myrtle murder. We’ll save your tree with the help of our ISA-certified arborist.