We've all seen over-pruning - or "Crape Myrtle
Murder" as we like to call it. People chop back
crape myrtles below the knuckles each and every year.
When a crape myrtle is pruned back too far it has two
the number of blooms that will be produced during
branches will grow far too long and therefore not
be able to support the weight of heavy blooms - particularly
when wet. These long branches weep over and often
break off during heavy rains.
a crape myrtle is pruned properly:
it will produce twice the number of blooms as it did
during the previous year.
new branches will be strong enough to support blooms.
time to prune crape myrtles - Wrong-season
pruning would mean November and December. Don't let
"peer pressure" by neighbors and commercial
gardening crews get to you. The reason is simple: we
usually don't have much of a winter in the South. If
you trim the crapes in the last two months of the year,
and we get a warming trend in January or February, the
trees might actually start putting on new growth. And
that new growth will be incredibly susceptible to freezing
weather should it come on the heals of a warm spell.
New growth will also tend to draw the cold right into
the plant, causing needless damage to a tree that should
be resting in dormancy. So, the best time to trim crape
myrtles growing in the south is February. For years,
we've suggested this as a great time to trim them, because
at that time we're also trimming back our roses and
many other plants and trees.
much to trim - The diagram below comes
from our parent company: Wilson Bros. Nursery, and it
shows how to properly prune a Crape Myrtle. The rule
of thumb is to trace down the outer stems, from the
dried seed pods to where the stem meets a branch, and
make a cut about 4-6" up from the intersection.
Then prune away all horizontal twiggy growth along all
main branches. If suckers have grown from the base of
the trunk prune these away too. Make all cuts as close
to branches as possible. By using this method of pruning
you will be promoting twice as many branches every season
which means twice as many blooms!