How to Prune a Crepe Myrtle
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How to Prune a Crepe Myrtle

This easy guide shows how to prune a crepe myrtle during the winter months.  Crepe myrtles are beautiful trees with a stunning display of flowers and attractive bark.  Pruning will increase the amount of bloom and create an attractively shaped tree.

It is best to prune a crepe myrtle in the winter when they are dormant.  Wait until all the leaves have dropped, usually in mid to late winter is best.  Crepe myrtles can be cut back by 30% of their total size.

Some people cut it back quite severely even back to the top of the trunk, but this isn’t necessary.  Smaller trees may only need a light pruning to encourage new growth and more flowers.

Crepe myrtles can be pruned into either a tree or leave the bottom branches if you would prefer your crepe myrtle to be a bush.

Tools Needed

  • Loppers
  • Pruners – These top rated ratcheting pruners from Amazon are great if you have arthritis in your hands. (Paid link)
  • Ladder (For larger trees)

Method

Time needed: 30 minutes.

Pruning a Crepe Myrtle

  1. Begin with a Hand Saw

    First stand back from your tree then decide which major branches will need to be cut off with the hand saw. Pick any branches that have grown up from the base, are too low or are growing through the middle of the tree preventing good air flow.Crepe myrtle before pruning.

  2. Cutting Larger Branches

    Use the hand saw or pruning saw to cut these branches close to the trunk of the tree at an angle so the rain will run off the cut.  This will prevent disease. It is best to make a cut underneath the branch first before cutting down from the top so you will achieve a clean cut.Cutting a larger crepe myrtle branch.

  3. Cutting Smaller Branches with Loppers

    Next prune any branches that are less than an inch thick with loppers.  Cut any branches pointing towards the middle of the tree then stand back and decide how much you want to cut back the canopy. 

  4. Reducing the Overall Size of the Tree

    Once you have decided how much to cut the branches back, cut each branch just above a node at an angle.  Use the pruners for smaller branches.

  5. Finishing the Pruning

    Stand back every now and then to assess your work.  You really can’t go wrong with a crepe myrtle; they are forgiving trees.After pruning the crepe myrtle.

Tip

Crepe myrtles are a versatile small tree that are suitable for a wide range of climates.  They are stunning on their own as a feature tree or plant in a row along a driveway for an impressive display.

A great way to create a mass planting without spending any more money is by saving the seeds in the fall (autumn). See this guide to Saving Crepe Myrtle Seeds for more information.

This extendable tree pruner from Amazon reduces the need to use ladders for tall trees. (Paid link)

To Print or Save this guide on how to prune a crepe myrtle, click the button below for the PDF file.

Looking for more gardening guides? Try this guide to Transplanting Bamboo, Taking Geranium Cuttings or Pruning an Apricot Tree.

For more information on saving money around the home, try this Homesteading guide.

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