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Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles pruning and care is one of the most misunderstood and poorly established practices of the southern landscape.

Crape myrtle pruning in the urban landscape is one of the recurring conversations that I have with property managers and homeowners. It is beyond a shame what many landscape companies do to these beautiful trees. The only explanation that I can come up with is that they just don’t know how to prune the correct way. Chopping them off is certainly faster and doesn’t require any real horticultural knowledge. Perhaps that is part of the reason for the poor practice.

The University of Florida has written a few articles on the topic – here is a quick link to get you started.

I also like this article from the University of Georgia, which reinforces a lot of my thinking regarding the care and pruning.

The flowers of a properly pruned crape myrtle
Crape Myrtle in Summer

Crape Myrtle pruning and care is really a lot like any other tree with a few exceptions. The similarities are that they also have times of the year that are better for pruning to achieve your goals.

In most of Central Florida we will be pruning when the trees go dormant in winter. Too early and you risk new shoots sprouting which leads to the tree stressing when cold weather comes. Going too late and the risk is that you will lose the buds that bring the flowers later.

One of the differences for crape myrtle pruning is the number of suckers that these trees produce. These suckers can be controlled with application of material (NAA -naphthalene acetic acid) at time of cutting.

Another difference is the number of crossing branches. Control this early in the trees development to redirect growth to the areas that you want to develop and also reduce unwanted growth habits.

Whatever you do please do not be involved in crape murder. 🙂

If you have specific concerns or questions feel free to contact us for a free consultation.