The Q&A Archives: Care of crepe myrtles in Northern Virginia?

Question: When and how far back should I trim my crepe myrtles?

Answer: Light pruning is best. Crape myrtles bloom on new growth so prune yours back in the spring and the new growth it develops should flower. After flowering is finished you can prune it back again and the new growth should bloom again later in the summer. If your crape myrtle is overgrown, you can do some remedial pruning, removing some large branches. However, when pruning, remember that new growth will emerge 3 to 4 inches below where the limb is cut. Avoid cutting back large limbs and leaving stubs, because an abundance of new growth will emerge near the cut, looking like pom-poms on stalks. Not only is this unnatural in appearance, but this thick, dense growth will be more susceptible to aphids. In the landscape industry, this type of pruning is jokingly referred to as "crape murder." A light, overall pruning will result in a uniform appearance and lots of flowers each season.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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