How to Prune Crape Myrtle Bushes

Georgia Lund By Georgia Lund, 30th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Trees & Shrubs

Crape myrtle bushes need a proper yearly pruning to keep them healthy and looking their best.

Don't Commit Crape Murder

Crape myrtle bushes are one of the most visible flowering shrub bushes in the south; thankfully they are also one of the most forgiving shrub bushes, since most people commit 'crape murder' when attempting to prune crape myrtle bushes.

"Crape murder" is a term used to describe the pruning technique that leaves the crape myrtle bushes looking like bare sticks with stick pom-poms protruding from the stick tops. Definitely not an aesthetically pleasing appearance, nor the correct way to prune a crape myrtle. The 'crape murder' style of pruning also leaves the crape myrtle bush more susceptible to pest infestation and disease.

How to Prune Crape Myrtle Bushes

The correct way to prune crape myrtle bushes is to simply prune away last season's growth during the winter when the bush is dormant. Prune away the long, dormant limbs that grew during the summer and remove all the seed pods. Prune away all sucker growth that sprouts from the bottom of the bushes' trunk too.

To keep crape myrtle bushes at the desired height and in the desired shape, pruning needs to be done each year during the bushes' dormant stage. If a year or two of pruning is skipped, or if you purchase property that has existing overgrown crape myrtles on it, you may have to do a more severe pruning to bring the flowering shrub back to its original glory.

How to Severely Prune Crape Myrtle Bushes Without Committing Crape Murder

Indentify the main stems of the flowering bush. Leave 1-3 main stems and prune away all other low growth, which will be sucker growth on the bush. After you have removed all of the extra growth, decide on the height that you want the crape myrtle bush to be, then prune the remaining stems at that height in a formation similar to an open umbrella. The center branch of the crape myrtle should be the highest, with the side branches slightly lower in descending order on each side.

Forget about leaving the 'stick pom-poms' on the top of each stem when doing a severe pruning. Prune the stem off flat at the desired height. The new growth will form the canopy that is desired when warm weather rolls around.

Crape myrtle bushes require very little care, heat and drought tolerant, and will even forgive you when you commit 'crape murder' with improper pruning.

Originally written and published by me on Suite101


Crepe Myrtle, How To Prune Crape Myrtles, How To Prune Shrubs, Pruning Crepe Myrtles, Pruning Shrubs

Meet the author

author avatar Georgia Lund
Ms. Lund is a freelance writer who enjoys gardening and sharing her knowledge through the Georgia Master Gardener program. Ms. Lund is a heart attack survivor who has educated herself in a variety of health, wellness and fitness topics. Ms. Lund is a...(more)

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