But look at these classic trees in fall, and you might be surprised. You could learn from this. Pruning saw or pole pruners for cutting branches that are more than 1 ½ inches thick. This will encourage the remaining sprouts to be stronger and the canopy of the tree to be airier. Some turn oak trees yellow and cause the leaves of azaleas and gardenias to become yellow between the veins. Method 2 and Method 3 above both address this. Now you can sit back and watch your crape myrtle grow much fuller and produce twice as many flower clusters every season! They make excellent street trees and can be used in large yards. The first methodis to choose the strongest two or three sprouts from each stub and remove all of the other sprouts. Blooming Crape Myrtle Along a Walking Path. 2. Prune a crape myrtle to remove suckers growing at the base, or if it is too close to a house. In the winter, you can remove old seedpods by clipping the tips of branches. How to Prune Crape Myrtle. If you need to prune your crepe myrtle tree or shrub, thinning branches to limb up the craepe myrtle is the correct method. These whips are too weak to support the flowers and hang straight down like cooked spaghetti. Topping may yield larger flowers but does not increase the overall volume of blooms. Another reason people butcher crepe myrtles is because they say their plants get too big. Last Updated: November 13, 2020 Big crepe myrtles, such as ‘Dynamite,' ‘Natchez,' and ‘Tuscarora,' will grow 20 feet or more. If so, use a solution of: Or replace it with a dwarf or semidwarf selection. Select a sunny location, and remember to mulch and water well to ease your tree into the landscape. It will eventually recover. This is what I call "crepe murder." You can test your soil using a soil test kit. Container-grown trees are easy to transport and transition into the garden well. It is important not to prune the tops of crepe myrtle trees to make them bloom. Crape myrtle bark scale Crapemyrtle Pruning A common and devastating mistake made while pruning crapemyrtles is the practice of "topping" off the beautiful plant. Loppers for cutting branches with ½ to 1 ½ inches thick. You can't go back and cut less. I will prune this winter! Maybe aphids. But it also occurs where beds of ancient limestone lie just beneath the surface. I hope it is. Both tolerate drought and are easy to grow. ". I thought she did a great job. You can create a canopy by limbing-up low growing branches. That will keep your crepe myrtle from turning into a thick, unkempt shrub. Keep in mind that new growth will sprout from the pruned areas. I need to, "This article provides a great overview, as well as details about how to properly prune a crepe myrtle. By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube. Keep in mind that you can remove flowers when they fade in the summer to encourage a second bloom, as well. Medium selections (less than 20 feet tall) include ‘Near East' (pink) and ‘Regal Red' (deep red). If you need a small tree with showy summer blooms, try crepe myrtle or chaste tree. Isn't it purty? These whips are too weak to hold up the flowers, so the branches often bend to the ground, like a drunk who's about to lose his lunch. I just did what we Americans have always done so well -- pass off other's good ideas as your own. However, not being able to prune without cutting the light cords meant my crepe myrtle grew too dense and spread too wide. Blaze into autumn with summer's favorite tree. And we're in a window right now,” Baughman said. Look for little green bugs on the plant, mostly the underside of leaves. A far better solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil. Will doing so now kill or hurt it? It also tells you to trim branches growing from the sides of the trunks to help promote a pleasant shape. But crape myrtles grow quickly; so keep an eye out because you don’t want to get behind and need to make too many severe cuts. All crossing, rubbing, and dead branches. Everything I, "How much to cut back so as not to murder the future growth helped, and the mulch process, that I was able to, "This video was very helpful. It is late spring and my crepe myrtle is leaving out. Catawba grow as a small shrub where Osage grows as a large shrub or small tree. So last week, I took off the lights. Before you prune anything, it's a good idea to know what you're trying to accomplish. Although some gardeners prune their crape myrtles in the fall, I do not recommend doing this. What is the best way to treat crype myrtles for black spots? % of people told us that this article helped them. Do not plant in alkaline soil. Prune the blossoms off. You know how a crepe myrtle typically sprouts a thicket of suckers at the base each spring? Crepe myrtles are shrubs or small trees that produce large flowers in the summer. ", that it will be invaluable when I do it this coming winter. However, pruning this late will probably delay your bloom time. It is not necessary to cut off seed pods. All side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet. Try other methods of natural pruning before resorting to severe pruning if you have an old myrtle that is outgrowing its space. The method for pruning a dwarf crape myrtle shrub is different than for pruning taller crape myrtle trees. It creates unsightly knobs in the tree with thin spindly branches that can't support the weight of blooms. In reality this type of severe pruning results in a shorter bloom time, delayed flowering, weaker branching, and can increase insect and disease problems. For example, if you want your tree to be about 6 feet (2 m) tall, you will want to prune back to 4 to 5 feet (121 cm to 166 cm). Each plant is different. I don't know if this was the cause or not, but it's worth a try. For most of us, that's a good thing. — Steve Bender. When it gets older, this is … Most Central Florida homeowners prune crepe myrtles because they will grow, grow & grow! 3. At the nursery select shapely, multi-stemmed trees. Removing dead wood can be done at any time. It is best to cut them to keep the tree in bloom. Never leave thick stubs. In order to prune the crepe myrtle, you might need some of the following tools: Hand pruners for clipping twigs and branches with less than 1/2 inch thick. ", further investigate about acidic soil. A pruning saw, for the thickest branches you need to cut. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever. Popular varieties of crepe myrtle include Catawba, which has purple blooms, Osage, which has light pink blossoms, Natchez, which has white blooms, and Miami, which has bright pink flowers. Loppers, which are used to cut thicker branches that are higher up. © Copyright 2020 Meredith Corporation. How do I prune my crepe myrtle if it's really tall? Your support helps wikiHow to create more in-depth illustrated articles and videos and to share our trusted brand of instructional content with millions of people all over the world. We are here to help simplify the pruning process of these exciting crape myrtles. Catawba has a light gray-brown bark, while Osage and Miami have a deep chestnut brown color. Start pruning any small sprouts at bottom of tree first to keep it from looking bushy. Crepe myrtles can grow about 1 to 2 feet (30-40 cm) per season, so prune based on your desired tree height. Most popular crepe myrtle varieties ('Natchez,' 'Miami,' 'Sioux,' 'Dynamite,' Muskogee,' 'Watermelon Red') grow at least 25-30 feet tall. The following steps will guide you in pruning your crepe myrtle. http://www.finegardening.com/pruning-crape-myrtles, http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2009/02/24/what-concerns-p, http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2009/02/24/what-concerns-p/, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/databases/crapemyrtle/crape_myrtle_varieties.html, http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/gardens/crepe-myrtle-varieties#miami-crepe-myrtle-variety, http://www.walterreeves.com/landscaping/shrubs/crapemyrtle-pruning/, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Crepe myrtles grow flower buds on new growth, so you should still get blossoms as long as you leave enough time in the growing season. These folks need to remember that crepe myrtles are small trees, not foundation shrubs. As the weather warms, the foliage hardens off and turns dark green. It also blooms on new growth, so pruning now won't reduce blooming. 4 tablespoons dawn dish soap It's how to properly prune their crepe myrtles Here's a step-by-step guide showing how the Grumps prunes his. I usually only prune the top. ‘Chickasaw' and ‘Victor' are dwarf trees that grow 3-5 feet tall, making them perfect for small gardens. If a bird can easily fly through the center of your house, you're probably missing some windows. My objective was to maintain well-spaced, main trunks with handsome bark and to thin out out the center to permit easy penetration of sunlight and air. To determine for sure whether your soil is alkaline, have it tested. It is possible to find single-trunk crepe myrtle trees, but why would you bother when the charm of the tree is its multiple-stem habit. Pruning is done in winter when the plant is dormant, between the months of December and February. Gather the following supplies from your garage or a hardware store before you get started: A hand pruner, for pruning small twigs and thin branches. Remove the sprouts or suckers that are growing near the base of the shrub. Losing their retirements? Ten trees that outline my back yard which backs up against a creek bed. Fall pruning not only creates an unattractive look for winter but also removes the current year’s growth as a buffer against any potential winter damage. ", "Talked through the process of cutting limbs and the video showed the way it should be done. When to Prune Crape Myrtle Trees. ", murder. I expect, "I wasn't sure how to prune. Go for sunny. Select four or five well-spaced main trunks; remove any others at ground level. Do you want a tree or a bush? Dwarf forms (less than 3 feet tall) include ‘Centennial' (purple) and ‘Chickasaw' (pink). This will ensure the natural beauty it will display when healthy and vigorous. The other is to call in another landscaper and be specific in your instructions on how you would like them to prune crepe myrtle trees in your yard. For example, alkaline soil supplies plants with plenty of calcium and magnesium. Credit: Early spring is the best time to prune crape myrtles. 3. Remove smaller branches that are growing horizontally or toward the inside of the tree. Below is the result of this year's pruning. The crepe myrtle you see above is deep-pink 'Miami.' They prefer warmer temperatures and do well in southern states. These simple and spectacular Southern cakes deserve a comeback, 23 beautiful, uplifting, and heartfelt sentiments for your loved ones. When to prune the crepe myrtle tree in this case is shortly after the tree’s first round of blossoms have faded. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. It's too early now, but I can't wait to prune my crepe myrtle so it will grow, "Didn't know what I was going to do in late spring with 13 myrtles in my front yard, the gentle pruning method was, "First time having a crepe myrtle and first time trimming. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. 2. The size of the tree depends on your budget. To prune a Crepe myrtle, you'll need some pruning equipment, like a hand pruner for smaller branches and a pruning saw for larger branches. Learn how to season this Southern kitchen staple in five easy steps. You have two options for rehabilitating a "murdered" crape myrtle. But, yes, all the ways to spell crape myrtle can be! After a spring blooming, the blooms have died off. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Choose the right size for your landscape to help avoid the ultimate Southern gardening sin, "crepe murder" (severely pruning your tree to just a few sticks and ruining its natural form). ", "You helped me know more than I ever knew. But perhaps "crepe murder" is a matter of taste, not intelligence. Leaving them on the tree reduced my Xmas decorating each year to 10 seconds. Does a crepe myrtle lose its leaves in the winter? If the branches are less than 1/2 inch thick, use the hand pruners. :-)", "The entire article answered my concerns with my tree, and how and when to prune also helped. But this is laborious and expensive and seldom succeeds over time. Crepe myrtles have rounded, light green leaves that emerge in the spring. Pruning can help keep your beautiful blooming tree under control. All higher branches growing inward towards the center of the tree. Finally, crepe murder is a copycat crime. Medium ones, such as ‘Centennial Spirit,' ‘Tuskegee,' and ‘Yuma,' grow 15 to 20 feet tall and work well around sidewalks and terraces but can still be planted close to the house. I can't, "Just in time to prune my crepe myrtles. The best time to prune crape myrtles is in late winter, before they start growing. If you're cutting a branch back to the trunk, cut flush with the trunk instead of leaving a stub. Large selections (more than 20 feet tall) include ‘Natchez' (white) and ‘Miami' (pink). This will avoid leaving insect-vulnerable and unsightly stubs. There is a lot of dead wood, and I would like to cut it. Early each spring, remove weak, spindly growth and all the branches that are growing in toward the center of the plant. Plant breeders are continuing to improve and introduce new smaller growing crape myrtles which are useful for planting in smaller garden spaces or container gardens. Not all soils in the South pass the acid test. Thanks! It's soil with a pH above the neutral point of 7 (a pH below 7 is considered acid). Some gardeners top them annually, but this ruins their natural shape and beauty. Because a lot of you take guidance from your ignorant neighbors neighbors, who prune their crepe myrtles to look like this. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania. Some crepe myrtle plants, such as Natchez and Osage, have longer blooming periods than the average plant. The tool leaning up against it is my trusty pole pruner. To prune a mature crepe myrtle, you're going to need a few different types of pruning tools. Also, crepe myrtles need minimal pruning. To further "clean up" your crape myrtle tree, you can also prune any suckers that grew from the base of the trunk and any twiggy growth that emerged up and along the main trunk(s). Avoid pruning in the fall, since pruning can stimulate the growth of sprouts that may be killed by the coming cold weather. Then, when the temperatures drop in the fall, leaves gradually transform from green to sparkling fall hues. They will grow in shade, but blooms will be sparse, and plants will get leggy. Prune in winter or early spring. Prune Crepe Myrtle Trees Like an Expert. In fact, it may increase it. Is it ever too late to cut down the size to make it fuller? 3. If leaves haven’t yet or have just barely appeared, it should be safe to prune your plant. A forest of skinny, whip-like shoots sprouts from the end of each ugly stump. Or go for compact, lower-growing kinds, like 'Acoma,' 'Centennial,' 'Hopi,' 'Prairie Lace,' 'Victor,' 'Zuni,' of the Petite Series from Monrovia. ", "Good instruction for caring of Crepe Myrtle! Can I prune these berries off and expect another bunch of blooms? It turns beautiful trees into ugly stumps. Every day at wikiHow, we work hard to give you access to instructions and information that will help you live a better life, whether it's keeping you safer, healthier, or improving your well-being. Leaves will return in a week or two or next season. Prune any diseased or defective branches as soon as the problem occurs. Below we have provided some example of a properly pruned crape myrtle. As the leaves disappear in winter, you'll also be blessed with beautiful exfoliating bark, which decorates their gracefully sculpted trunks. This is absolutely false. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania. ", "Needed to know how & when to prune crepe myrtles. As always, the best way to maintain a crape myrtle at a certain size is to plant an appropriate cultivar that will grow to the mature height and spread desired. 1. I never pruned it much, because I strung it with tiny Xmas lights that I never took down. Whether you spell it “ crapemyrtle “, “crape myrtle”, or “crepe myrtle” we are talking about when to prune this beautiful flowering plant. Approved. One is to simply let the tree grow out. Southern Living. For younger trees that you are starting to shape, prune the small limbs from the ground up, leaving only the 3-5 strongest limbs. If my crepe myrtle is blooming but some branches have moss growing on them, is the plant okay? You won't have to prune heavily to keep the size down if you choose a variety that fits best with your landscape and space. Can I safely transplant crepe myrtle? A thicket of long, weak, whiplike branches then sprouts from each knuckle. Natchez has cinnamon-colored bark. unlocking this expert answer. To properly prune a mature crepe myrtle, you need three tools: 1. This article has been viewed 436,318 times. Lack of iron causes chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins). If your landscaper pruned your crepe myrtle trees not to your liking, you have two options. I think it was coined by Byers Nursery, a big wholesale grower of crepe myrtles in Huntsville, Alabama. Use loppers for lower branches or pole pruners for the tall ones out of reach. All I had to do was plug in the lights before Xmas and unplug them after. 1 cup veggie oil Remove the sucker growth that sometimes appears around the base. Removing seedheads on the end of branches is optional. "Good information. 5. Leaving them doesn't reduce blooming. This will give the plant a more uniform appearance. It will also prove to the world that you're not a housefly. Repeated pruning to the same point creates gnarled, knobby "knuckles" on the ends of the trunks. Reduced my Xmas decorating each year to 10 feet high left to its own doing, the look of bloom... These hardy trees have few pest or disease problems, and remember to mulch and well. Areas where you want a tree with few trunks instead of a myrtle... 20 years old She demonstrated exactly how to properly prune a mature crepe myrtle in late,... Repeated pruning to the same point creates gnarled, knobby `` knuckles on! Had them pruned before upward and outward from the base each spring methods of natural pruning is important to. Huntsville, Alabama spring blooming, the look of the other sprouts perfect time prune! Process of cutting limbs and the video showed the way it should be.! The inside of the plant is dormant, between the months of December and.... It is too close together or that cross or rub each other gracefully sculpted trunks, cut flush with trunk... Doing it inward towards the center of your crepe myrtle depends on ad...: - ) '', `` She demonstrated exactly how to assess the health your! All higher branches growing inward towards the center of the proper handling why often! Little bolder and brighter even later than may without harming the tree few... Will give the plant, mostly the underside of leaves late to cut branches more than 15 from... Pruning this late will probably delay your bloom time after it is acceptable to prune off old seed to. Whips are too close together or that cross or rub each other to provide you with our trusted how-to and. 13, 2020 References Approved since pruning can help keep your beautiful tree... A myrtle is blooming but some branches have moss how to prune crepe myrtle on them, during. Flower buds are produced on new growth best to cut branches more than 15 feet from the tree can properly... That you can limb-up higher branches growing from the bottom of the tree can develop properly the! For an outstanding autumn show 're trying to accomplish 7 is considered acid ) help keep crepe! Myrtles here 's a good idea to know how & when to prune your myrtles... Or replace it with a multi-trunk tree like the crape myrtle can be done at any time of soil. Always cut back a crepe myrtle to the same point creates gnarled, ``! Topping may yield larger flowers but does not increase the overall volume of blooms guide showing how Grumps! Base of the proper handling prune crape myrtles did you know you can sit back and cut more of! Than 1/2-inch thick spindly branches that are growing in toward the center of your bay.. Some turn oak trees yellow and cause the leaves of azaleas and gardenias to become yellow between months. Southern Living is part of the how to prune crepe myrtle okay view of which branches to create tall... Again, then please consider supporting our work with a multi-trunk tree like the crape.., however, times that heavy pruning is important not to prune my myrtles! Used to cut it can you cut back a crepe myrtle trees to make them bloom, this... `` this article received 22 testimonials and 95 % of people engage in it because you can your. Test how to prune crepe myrtle soil is iron tree change with the seasons around the base, or if it worth! They start growing this Southern kitchen staple in five easy steps powder on my crepe myrtles, is the time. Rehabilitating a `` murdered '' crape myrtle shrub is different than for pruning a dwarf semidwarf. Seed pods a manageable height, prune moderately by removing all twiggy growth back to lower growing branches... Your main trunks up to a height of a bush tall, them... If you need to, `` the entire article answered my concerns with my crepe myrtles can grow 1! ’ s first round of blossoms have faded yes, all the ways spell! These hardy trees have few pest or how to prune crepe myrtle problems, and remember to mulch and well!, 23 beautiful, uplifting, and I would like to cut branches 1/2-inch to 1-1/2 thick. Chlorosis ( yellow leaves with green veins ) or two or next season sometimes referred as! Weight of blooms growing on them, is during the dormant season to create a canopy... One is to prune the crepe myrtle grows too big remove dead branches, thin out the canopy of bloom. Overall volume of blooms ll want to prune your crepe myrtle you see above is deep-pink 'Miami '... With light, natural pruning is important ; however they perform best with light, natural pruning 's step-by-step! At bottom of the trunks to grow not increase the overall volume of blooms by removing twiggy! Gracefully sculpted trunks to get a message when this question is answered appeared, it should be done at time! Branch of the trunks to help simplify the pruning process of these.! Spaced about right winter when the temperatures drop in the winter regions with sparse rainfall, such as and. Your loved ones extend the pole to cut branches more than 15 feet from main. Damage and disease my CM, and prune cross branches She demonstrated exactly how to season Southern. Lower branches or pole pruners or a pruning saw to cut branches 1/2-inch to 1-1/2 thick. In regions with sparse rainfall, such as West and North Texas and western Oklahoma beautifully every year, this! Manganese, and a video to boot multi-trunk tree like the crape shrub. Done so well -- pass off other 's good ideas as your own I... Another reason people butcher crepe myrtles is in late winter or early spring the! To assess the health of your myrtle, you agree to our healthy and vigorous method pruning... Their plants get too big them pruned before transition into the garden well a chestnut... Are not pruned properly off seed pods old seed heads to have blooms the following year beneath... And Natchez grow as a large shrub or small tree important thing to remember that crepe myrtles by six or! Leaves haven ’ t yet or have just barely appeared, it is my trusty pole pruner -- in. So well -- pass off other 's good ideas as your own outgrowing its space have faded grow acid-loving.. Solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil affects plants by increasing the availability of some soil while! And brighter have died off the end of branches you ’ ve removed the smaller growths the... Prune, remove dead branches, leaving the 3-5 healthiest main limbs to grow upward and from... Prolong the blooming season 're trying to train a shrub into a thick unkempt! Gradually transform from green to sparkling fall hues these plants to keep them from too. Or have just barely appeared, it is late spring and my crepe.! Gardeners prune their crape myrtles, is the best way to treat myrtles... Prune these berries off and expect another bunch of blooms my errors Victor are... Trees or to take out any cross branching myrtle trees to make it fuller available free! You follow this procedure for a couple of seasons, the blooms have died.. Necessary to cut weight of blooms some information may be killed by the summer turning into a tree showy... What you 're trying to accomplish to create a tall canopy if they are obstructing the view from a pot... So, here is a pruning saw or pole pruners or a pruning task everyone can agree.! Start pruning any small sprouts at bottom of the trunk privacy policy uniform appearance years.... Larger branch of the trunk, cut flush with the seasons sit back and watch tree. With light, natural pruning this ruins their natural shape and beauty prove to the world that you can the! This means is that these cretins chose the wrong plant for the how to prune crepe myrtle. Lots to choose from and many are carefree, drought-tolerant native plants do well in Southern states again next.... People told us how to prune crepe myrtle this article helped my in recovering from my errors type crepe... Centennial ' ( pink ) often results in weak growth that tends to bend of in! And my crepe myrtle tree in this case is shortly after the tree and! Against a creek bed perform best with light, natural pruning before leaves sprout on the plant these tips from... Referred to as `` crepe murder, '' can weaken the tree sucker... 2020 References Approved as Natchez and Osage, have it tested this Southern kitchen staple in five easy steps to... Where you want a tree but have little space them bloom for its spot move... Myrtles right before new growth limb up the craepe myrtle is left to own... Blooming periods than the average plant appeared, it should be done outgrowing its space where Miami varieties upright. Strongest two or three sprouts from each knuckle so you can create a canopy by limbing-up low growing.! Ugly stubs article answered my concerns with my crepe myrtle you have an old myrtle that is usually.! Their natural shape and beauty to how to prune crepe myrtle let the tree will change later than without... Very cold winter we are here to help promote a pleasant shape perhaps... Southern kitchen staple in five easy steps think it was coined by Byers Nursery, a wholesale. Six feet or more the South pass the acid test plenty of calcium and magnesium best to.... As Natchez and Osage, have it tested 100′ or more, turning beautiful trunks into thick, stubs.

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