Pruning and Limbing Up Crape Myrle

Lagerstroemia indica by jacilluch

Bernadette asked TheGardenLady when would be the best time to prune her crape myrtle/Lagerstroemia tree.

You can always prune off dead or broken branches at any time of the year on your crape myrtle or any shrub or tree. You can also cut off the dead blossoms after flowering if you don’t like the looks of them- the ones you can reach, that is.( sometimes this will force the crape myrtle to send out more flowers) If you don’t mind leaving the blossom ends, you don’t have to even cut those lower blossom ends. Some people think they have winter interest and birds like  to eat the seeds in the winter. Of course, you don’t have to bother with the blossom ends you cannot reach at the top of the plant because nature will dispose of them.

The crape myrtle does not need much pruning if you like the shape it is in. It is the kind of shrub I like, the lazy man’s shrub.

But if you do need to prune your crape myrtle, wait till the end of winter through early spring. You can wait until the plant begins to put out its first new growth of the season, but not much longer.  Then, if your crape myrtle has the shape you like and hasn’t outgrown its location, just do a little trim to remove the tips of branches and, of course, any winter damage.

If you want to do more major pruning because your crape myrtle has outgrown its location, you will have to do what is called limbing up or cutting out crossed branches or cutting out the weaker trunks. You will not want to lob off the top of the tree as many people incorrectly do. Read the agriculture extension information on the proper and improper methods of pruning crape myrtle trees and watch this YouTube demonstration on the proper pruning techniques.

TheGardenLady uses Florian brand pruning equipment that offers a lifetime warranty.  The company seems to attend major flower shows where one can take the equipment for free sharpening every year. I use the rachet-cut pruners which are easier on the hand when cutting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 + 16 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.