The Q&A Archives: Pruning Crape Myrtles

Question: How do you prune Crape Myrtles and when is best to do so?

Answer: Once crepe myrtles have bloomed and shed their flowers, they will set seed. The small round seedpods or capsules usually weigh the limbs down, making them sag. Using a sharp pair of clippers or hedge trimmers, cut off the seedpods. New shoots with buds will quickly appear, and you will get a second bloom.

For a beautiful plant, follow these guidelines:

Prune in late winter. February is ideal.
Remove suckers at the base, crossing or rubbing branches, and branches growing inward toward the center of the plant.
As the tree grows, gradually remove all side branches from the main trunks up to a height of 5 feet or so.
Cut back to another branch, to just above an outward-facing bud on a branch, or to the branch collar (a swollen area where the branch joins the trunk). Never leave lone or clustered stubs.
Try to remove unwanted branches before they get thicker than a pencil.
It's okay but unnecessary to cut off old seedheads.

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