Pruning Your Crape Myrtle
Pruning your Crape Myrtle
One of the attractive flowering trees in the landscape is the Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia sp. Their shape, bark color, and flowers are a highlight of the summer landscape in Florida. As is more easy to see over the winter months, however, many landscapers and homeowners top crape myrtles. This pruning practice creates an unattractive plant with large limbs and branch stubs exposed. While seen widely both in Florida and in other states, this practice leads to multiple weak branches growing out of a single cut limb. It also can result in many suckers coming up from the base of the plant. Topping, or pollarding (cutting back to the same place each year) leads to less flowers being produced in the summer.
Correct Pruning of Crape Myrtles
Selecting the right crape myrtle planted in the right place results in little or no pruning needed. However, there are reasons for prune crape myrtles. Pruning correctly leads to a plant with a better plant structure and appearance, and to the production of more flowers. While it is best to prune just before the dormant season ends in late winter to early spring, you should remove dead, diseased and dying limbs at any time.
Remove limbs that prevent the movement of people or vehicles, or are safety hazards. Prune vigorous limbs that grow quickly out of the middle of your crape myrtle. Branches that are crossing or rubbing should also be pruned . Trim the smaller branches after flowering or fruiting at any time without risk of excessive buds breaking. Correctly pruning your crape myrtle will provide you with an attractive flowering plant during the summer months in your Florida landscape.
For information on Crape Myrtles, read about Crape Myrtle Pruning, the New Red-Flowered Crape Myrtles, and Crape Myrtle in Florida, which provides a great list of crape myrtle sizes, colors and disease resistance.