The Q&A Archives: Pruning Crepe Mrytle

Question: I just bought what looks like a crepe mrytle bush with 3-4 main branches and is about 5 feet tall. The store also had these in trees that were a little taller (6-7) feet that had the leaves and blooms just at the top of clean stalks. Can mine be pruned into this tree shape. I live near St. Louis--are these hard here? I had two shrubs I planted nearly two years ago--one died and the other disappears during the winter but comes back in late spring and gets to about 5 feet tall but did not bloom this year. Any suggestions?

Answer: Crape myrtle is a shrubby plant that can be trained into a tree. Not all are hardy in Illinois, though, so training your shrub into a tree can result in a dead plant if it freezes down to the ground each winter. I'd keep them as shrubs rather than training into tree shapes. Crape myrtles bloom on new growth and should bloom each spring. If they don't the flower buds may have been nipped by a late frost. Crape myrtles are not always reliable bloomers in cold winter areas. With this in mind, yes, you can prune your crape myrtle into a tree shape by removing all but the largest main stem and cutting off the lowest limbs to make a tree shape. Hope this answers your question!

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