Cutting Back Crepe Myrtle

By Shannon C , last updated May 25, 2011

When cutting back crepe myrtle trees, there are several common mistakes that gardeners new to gardening, or simply new to crepe myrtle trees, often make. These mistakes, while not fatal, can cost a season's worth in blooms or worse, and may injure an otherwise healthy tree needlessly. Learn from gardening experts how to successfully cut back a crepe myrtle tree in your own home garden or landscape setting.

When to Cut Back Crepe Myrtle Trees

For best results, experts recommend that any extensive pruning or cut backs should be done in the late winter or early spring season when the crepe myrtle tree is dormant. While minor maintenance cut backs to remove dead or damaged foliage or tend to pest or disease outbreaks can be done anytime, more extensive pruning outside of the winter season is likely to harm the tree.

What Types of Pruning Equipment to Use

For best results, experts urge the importance of assembling the proper pruning implements. The best types of pruning equipment are hand pruning shears for small branches and leaves, pruning loppers to cut branches under two inches of thickness, and a pruning saw to cut thicker branches. A pole pruner can also be useful to cut top-most foliage.

How to Cut Back Crepe Myrtle Trees

Crepe myrtle trees respond best to bottoms-up pruning. First, remove ground level suckers and weeds growing around the base of the trunk. Next, cut back side growing branches along the trunk up to four feet from topsoil. Next, remove any higher level branches that are growing in towards the trunk rather than outwards, as well as branches that rub together or grow crosswise. Finally, cut back remaining branches to six inches above the nearest growth node, or the place where the stem meets the branch. This will encourage denser, thicker growth the next season.

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