Pruning Crepe Myrtles

Garden Grove, CA

Just how much is appropriate pruning for a Crepe Myrtle. A while ago I had my tree thinned by "experienced" trimmers. They cleaned out dead branches but did not cut the tree back in any way. My tree has long branches and is fairly thin in growth. Kind of like "the Poodle effect". This fall should I cut these branches way back? Will new growth come out on these long braches? Does anyone know of a good source of information...I'm new at this gardening thing!

There are 2 schools of thought here. Some say to leave the crepe myrtle along, and let it grow however it wants.

Others (myself included) believe a crepe myrtle can benefit by being pruned in order to give it a more upright growth habit, as well as showcase it's beautiful bark during the winter months.

If you want to achieve the latter, trim off every branch that is thicker than a pencil. This will result in over 80% of the branches being removed. The crepe myrtle should look very bare, and the thicker, beautiful branches should be visible with no smaller branches obstructing them.

Here's a picture of one of mine.

Although you can see some new growth just starting to appear, you can get a general picture of how I pruned this guy.


Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

dave, thicker or thinner than a pencil?? just to be sure I've got it right

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Well I like to see it bushier rather than sparse so I would only remove those branches that crossed each other inside the canopy - but this is my personal choice. I have seen all branches cut down to the main trunk and I don't like it. BTW there are now bush crape myrtles as well as ground cover ones.

Oofta, tiG, thanks for catching that. Prune off branches that are THINNER than a pencil. Ugh that would have been a disaster (but, I'd like to know how you can trim the big branches and leave the tiny ones... heheheh)

Louisa: You are definitely in the "au natural" category of crepe myrtle growers. I am also this way with almost every plant out there, the one exception being crepe myrtles. I think the bark on the trunk is so attractive, that I want to showcase it all winter here. Ergo, all C.M.'s get pruned on our property. Personal choice. The tree doesn't mind either way.


Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Dave I grow the smaller leaved crape and it doesn't lend itself well to heavy pruning but I do take out the lower limbs to expose the trunk, which is beautiful. Your crapes I believe are the stiffer branched ones and probably produce a better crop of flowers if pruned - but I'm not sure :-)

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.