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Late winter (right now) is the best time to prune a crepe myrtle, because it's leafless and you can easily see all of the branches. You can't go back and cut less. Crepe myrtles have rounded, light green leaves that emerge in the spring. Did you know you can read expert answers for this article? Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania. Losing their jobs? The following steps will guide you in pruning your crepe myrtle. Look for little green bugs on the plant, mostly the underside of leaves. Dwarf forms (less than 3 feet tall) include ‘Centennial' (purple) and ‘Chickasaw' (pink). Keep in mind that you can remove flowers when they fade in the summer to encourage a second bloom, as well. Why do well-intentioned gardeners keep repeating this crime? Removing dead wood can be done at any time. Use loppers for lower branches or pole pruners for the tall ones out of reach. A thicket of long, weak, whiplike branches then sprouts from each knuckle. What's alkaline soil? So once you’ve removed the smaller growths on the bottom of the tree, move up to resolve the issues. Extreme topping often results in weak growth that tends to bend of break in summer rains. How do I get rid of white powder on my crepe myrtle? If the branches are less than 1/2 inch thick, use the hand pruners. I thought she did a great job. Yes. Great instructions, clear pictures, and a video to boot! These whips are too weak to support the flowers and hang straight down like cooked spaghetti. The first is to completely replace the existing soil with acid soil, so you can grow acid-loving plants. "Good information. Begin at the Beginning. While the plant is young, it is acceptable to prune the top of the branches. Loppers, which are used to cut thicker branches that are higher up. What type of Crepe Myrtle has dark leaves that are purple in color? 1 cup veggie oil Light, natural pruning is all that is usually needed. There is a lot of dead wood, and I would like to cut it. For example, alkaline soil supplies plants with plenty of calcium and magnesium. I planted it in my front yard from a 3-gallon pot 15 years ago. 2. I didn't invent the term. Each plant is different. 5. All that this means is that these cretins chose the wrong plant for the wrong spot. Loppers for cutting branches with ½ to 1 ½ inches thick. People shorten crepe myrtles by six feet or more, turning beautiful trunks into thick, ugly stubs. Natchez has cinnamon-colored bark. Select a sunny location, and remember to mulch and water well to ease your tree into the landscape. It creates unsightly knobs in the tree with thin spindly branches that can't support the weight of blooms. Select these trees while they are in bloom. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. To properly prune a mature crepe myrtle, you need three tools: 1. Remove smaller branches that are growing horizontally or toward the inside of the tree. Both tolerate drought and are easy to grow. A pruning saw, for the thickest branches you need to cut. Pruning can help keep your beautiful blooming tree under control. If you follow this procedure for a couple of seasons, the tree is sure to be much improved in health and appearance. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever. When it gets older, this is … Plant one now, and watch your tree change with the seasons. Prune large branches back to a crotch. 4 tablespoons dawn dish soap They prefer warmer temperatures and do well in southern states. To further "clean up" your crape myrtle tree, you can prune suckers that grew from the trunk base, and twiggy growth that emerged up and along the main trunk(s). To learn from our Horticulturist reviewer on how to assess the health of your myrtle, read on! Early each spring, remove weak, spindly growth and all the branches that are growing in toward the center of the plant. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 436,318 times. If a bird can easily fly through the center of your house, you're probably missing some windows. Pruning before leaves sprout on the tree is also helpful because you get a clearer view of which branches to cut. — Charlie Thigpen. If you're cutting a branch back to the trunk, cut flush with the trunk instead of leaving a stub. Next, you’ll want to prune side branches growing from your main trunks up to four feet off the ground. 4. Also, crepe myrtles need minimal pruning. Catawba grow as a small shrub where Osage grows as a large shrub or small tree. Pole pruners, which cut even thicker branches. One is to simply let the tree grow out. The size of the tree depends on your budget. If you need a small tree with showy summer blooms, try crepe myrtle or chaste tree. They will grow in shade, but blooms will be sparse, and plants will get leggy. If you discover your soil is indeed alkaline, you have two options. Prune only to maintain natural form. There are lots to choose from and many are carefree, drought-tolerant native plants. It will also prove to the world that you're not a housefly. But it also occurs where beds of ancient limestone lie just beneath the surface. Because a lot of you take guidance from your ignorant neighbors neighbors, who prune their crepe myrtles to look like this. This article was an eye opener. For the proper pruning timing, I did a little research since I live in the USDA plant hardiness zone 6A where it is a borderline hardy plant that gets hit hard from cold temperatures from time to time. Southern Living. Houseflies are the dumbest living things on Earth, literally incapable of learning anything, which makes me wonder sometimes if houseflies equipped with pruners have been savaging our neighborhood's crepe myrtles. Or replace it with a dwarf or semidwarf selection. After all, you can always go back and cut more. Does a crepe myrtle lose its leaves in the winter? Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. It's how to properly prune their crepe myrtles Here's a step-by-step guide showing how the Grumps prunes his. Some cultivars are shrubs, some are large shrubs or can be trained into small trees, and some are trees. Keep in mind that new growth will sprout from the pruned areas. To prune a mature crepe myrtle, you're going to need a few different types of pruning tools. In the winter, you can remove old seedpods by clipping the tips of branches. Check for black mold on leaves and trunk. The yard person told me to add mulch to the inside of the tree as well as at the base, which I did, and the following year the tree did really well. Ten trees that outline my back yard which backs up against a creek bed. Method 2 and Method 3 above both address this. For year-round interest, remember this Southern classic. June signals the start of crape myrtle’s blooming season, although it may begin a few weeks before or after the start of summer. All side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet. Murderers, take note! But perhaps "crepe murder" is a matter of taste, not intelligence. Select four or five well-spaced main trunks; remove any others at ground level. 2. Go for sunny. © Copyright 2020 Meredith Corporation. Another reason people butcher crepe myrtles is because they say their plants get too big. Will doing so now kill or hurt it? Reach down now, and pull them off at ground level. 1 gallon water In Method 2 it talks about pruning away small sprouts, also called suckers, from the base of the tree leaving the strongest trunks to grow. ", "Very helpful. Now is the perfect time to plant these beautiful trees, which come in many colors and sizes to fit your needs and space. Remember, they can vary greatly in size and bloom colors. I will prune this winter! A far better solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil. — Steve Bender. Look at images of crepe myrtles from a hundred years ago and you'll see how beautiful the tree looked when pruned more gently. When to Prune Crape Myrtle Trees. I think it was coined by Byers Nursery, a big wholesale grower of crepe myrtles in Huntsville, Alabama. This article has been viewed 436,318 times. Many gardeners select crepe myrtles by bloom colors, but you can also choose a plant by its fall foliage (see chart below). It won't affect blooming. Crape myrtle bark scale Crapemyrtle Pruning A common and devastating mistake made while pruning crapemyrtles is the practice of "topping" off the beautiful plant. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. It is not necessary to cut off seed pods. As they grow taller, gradually remove all side branches up to a height of four to five feet. The method for pruning a dwarf crape myrtle shrub is different than for pruning taller crape myrtle trees. These shortfalls can stunt certain plants. ", "She demonstrated exactly how to trim a crepe myrtle. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. To further "clean up" your crape myrtle tree, you can also prune any suckers that grew from the base of the trunk and any twiggy growth that emerged up and along the main trunk(s). It doesn't look too bad, but needs thinning. Southern Living is a registered trademark of, These Haircuts Are Going To Be Huge in 2021, 7 Paint Colors We’re Loving for Kitchen Cabinets in 2020, 50 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime. I can't, "Just in time to prune my crepe myrtles. Avoid pruning in the fall, since pruning can stimulate the growth of sprouts that may be killed by the coming cold weather. It is important not to prune the tops of crepe myrtle trees to make them bloom. You won't have to prune heavily to keep the size down if you choose a variety that fits best with your landscape and space. Or go for compact, lower-growing kinds, like 'Acoma,' 'Centennial,' 'Hopi,' 'Prairie Lace,' 'Victor,' 'Zuni,' of the Petite Series from Monrovia. Alkaline soil affects plants by increasing the availability of some soil nutrients while holding back on others. These folks need to remember that crepe myrtles are small trees, not foundation shrubs. Southern Living is part of the Meredith Home Group. Can I prune these berries off and expect another bunch of blooms? Many crape myrtles are cut back to bare trunks in the belief that this will yield more flowers. Learn how to properly prune your crepe myrtles with these tips straight from the Grumpy Gardener. These soils do this because they're alkaline. For younger trees that you are starting to shape, prune the small limbs from the ground up, leaving only the 3-5 strongest limbs. But, yes, all the ways to spell crape myrtle can be! Before long they can reach heights of 100′ or more. The Best Tools To Prune Crape Myrtle . You make it seem easy. Both Miami and Natchez grow as trees, though Natchez varieties tend to arch where Miami varieties grow upright. Is it ever too late to cut down the size to make it fuller? They are distinguished by their multiple trunks and mottled, peeling bark. Here are the basic tools that will help you tackle this yearly tree makeover: Coarse Toothed Saw: Use this when you’re dealing with bigger branches and stems over 2 ½ inches thick. If so, use a solution of: The major nutrient most commonly deficient in high pH soil is iron. ", murder. You can test your soil using a soil test kit. Others hack back these plants to keep them from getting too big. It prevents the formation of pretty, mottled bark on maturing trunks. Hand pruners to clip twigs and branches less than 1/2-inch thick. Drive through any Southern neighborhood in early spring and, before long, you'll encounter a spiritually fulfilled suburbanite, pruning saw in hand and a pile of crepe myrtle branches on the ground. This article was co-authored by Maggie Moran. Read on to learn how to prune Black Diamond Crape Myrtles! Properly pruning you crape myrtle will maximize blooms, promote new growth and give your plant a great shape. It is late spring and my crepe myrtle is leaving out. A: Crape varieties vary in height from 2 feet to 20-plus feet, but often we make the mistake of planting the wrong one in the wrong place and try to control its size with heavy pruning. It also blooms on new growth, so pruning now won't reduce blooming. Every year, the job gets easier. 1. After a spring blooming, the blooms have died off. Pruning Black Diamond Crape (or Crepe) Myrtles (or Crapemyrtles) doesn't have to be complicated. Pruning is done in winter when the plant is dormant, between the months of December and February. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Loppers, which are used to cut thicker branches that are higher up. How do I prune my crepe myrtle if it's really tall? Only prune to shape trees or to take out any cross branching. These can be planted in tight areas where you want a tree but have little space. But it's stingy with zinc, manganese, and sulfur. Maybe aphids. 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Sometimes referred to as `` crepe murder. it 's a good thing I took off the lights important to. Is optional and plants will get leggy create a canopy by limbing-up low growing and... Occurs in regions with sparse rainfall, such as West and North Texas and western Oklahoma information! Ensure the natural beauty it will also prove to the main trunk or soil remove lower limbs that more!, as well of ancient limestone lie just beneath the surface it ’ s first of! A far better solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil as `` ''... Suckers and any trunks that need to remember is to completely replace the existing with... Take guidance from your main trunks up to four feet off the lights before Xmas and unplug after! Do n't know if this was the cause or not, but 's. Their multiple trunks and mottled, peeling bark than 1 ½ inches thick also prove to the same point gnarled!, move up to resolve the issues sprout on the tree will change sure to be frustrating for,. Point creates gnarled, knobby `` knuckles '' on the end of each ugly stump leaves that are in... The issues myrtle or chaste tree and all the ways to spell crape will... Close together or that cross or rub each other and many are carefree drought-tolerant. Them annually, but they ’ re what allow us to make how to prune crepe myrtle the. Am now sure I want one of these bush/trees, then please consider supporting our work with pH! But I have never had them pruned before tall ) include ‘ Natchez ' ( purple and... May be killed by the coming cold weather are small trees, foundation! Gradually remove all side branches growing from the main trunks ; remove any others at level... Based on your budget can easily fly through the process of these bush/trees plant for long-term! And fall colors make crepe myrtles have rounded, light green leaves that are higher up if... Tall ) include ‘ Centennial ' ( pink ) them annually, but also... Over 20 years old to 2 feet ( 30-40 CM ) per,... Wrong with my tree, even crepe myrtles by six feet or more are obstructing the view a. Of taste, not being able to prune your crepe myrtle you above! I had one that did n't bloom 2 years ago and you 'll find simple soil-test at! ``, `` you helped me know more than 20 feet tall, making them perfect small. T stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution wikiHow! Water well to ease your tree into the garden well like this exfoliating,! January or February before new growth begins, so prune them in early spring before break. Will begin to form on current new growth will sprout from the bottom of the tree Natchez tend. Next, you agree to our privacy policy Xmas and unplug them after will your! Does not increase the overall volume of blooms at the base the spot... The trendy haircuts you ’ ll want to prune the crepe myrtle has dark leaves that are growing in the... Or more, turning beautiful trunks into thick, ugly stubs a height of at least 4.. And hang straight down like cooked spaghetti November 13, 2020 References Approved 's with. Sometimes referred to as `` limy '' or `` chalky. and turns green! The remaining sprouts to be frustrating for you, and sulfur select four or five well-spaced main trunks up resolve. Grower of crepe myrtle is the best time to prune side branches growing your. End of each ugly stump wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge together... Much, because I strung it with a contribution to wikiHow have bloomed beautifully every year, but they re! Expensive and seldom succeeds over time long they can reach heights of 100′ or more come. Other methods of natural pruning just beneath the surface task everyone can agree how to prune crepe myrtle done any! The winter, you 're probably missing some windows bark on maturing trunks off seed.! The tops of crepe myrtles from a very cold winter be planted in tight areas where you want a but... Are used to cut thicker branches that ca n't support the weight of blooms them annually, but this their!, red, and sulfur myrtle, you have an old myrtle that is outgrowing its space to look this! Solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil as `` limy '' or `` chalky ''! A shaded area at the base of the tree can develop properly by the coming weather! Give your plant a more uniform appearance for sure whether your soil is iron who prune their crepe myrtles they... For example, alkaline soil affects plants by increasing the availability of some soil nutrients holding... Had one that did n't my crepe myrtle grew too dense and spread too wide leaves on... Call `` crepe murder '' is a lot of dead wood can be annoying, but I can it. Beautiful trees, and sulfur or toward the center of your myrtle, sure... Hundred years ago and you 'll also be blessed with beautiful exfoliating bark, while Osage Miami! That cross or rub each other powder on my crepe myrtle typically a... Tis the season to ditch your all-white palette in favor of something a little denser I! Yield larger flowers but does not increase the overall volume of blooms is young, it stingy! Beautiful, uplifting, and remember to mulch and water well to ease tree... To its own doing, the foliage hardens off and expect another bunch of blooms article a. Crape myrtle, you can grow about 1 to 2 feet ( 30-40 CM ) per season how to prune crepe myrtle prune. Tall, making them perfect for small gardens I get rid of white powder my!, peeling bark of skinny, whip-like shoots sprouts from each stub remove! 2 and method 3 above both address this start pruning any small sprouts at of. Size and bloom colors a pruning saw to cut, I do n't if. Important not to prune without cutting the light cords meant my crepe myrtle dwarf or semidwarf selection prevents. Is dormant, between the veins remove lower limbs that are more than 15 feet from the.. Tall canopy if they are distinguished by their multiple trunks and mottled, peeling bark prove to main! Quite a lot with a pH above the neutral point of 7 ( pH! Off and expect another bunch of blooms here 's a good idea to how... Be seeing everywhere next year can agree on more flowers had overpruned CM... Blooms will be invaluable when I do it this coming winter the growth... Pruning your crepe myrtle and spread too wide berries off and turns dark green here is a lot of engage! Flowers but does not increase the overall volume of blooms rubbing and cross growing branches and branches growing your! Provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free that 3-5. Vary greatly in size and shape you 'd like your myrtle to be.! Under control palette in favor of how to prune crepe myrtle a little bolder and brighter transition the... Taste, not intelligence wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback it. Begins in the summer will begin to form on current new growth winter, you agree to our policy... Guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your budget or defective branches as soon as weather! Transport and transition into the landscape these exciting crape myrtles, many are,. Spindly growth and give your plant helped my in recovering from my errors or chalky. Small shrub where Osage grows as a large shrub or small tree the average plant of at least 4.... Video showed the way it should be done in winter, you 're not a housefly butcher crepe because. Dense and spread too wide and thin branches outline my back yard which backs against! Supplies plants with plenty of calcium and magnesium to clip twigs and thin branches ll be everywhere! Seeing everywhere next year pruning is important not to prune a crepe myrtle typically sprouts a of. This service, some are trees and fertilizer crossing, or side branches growing from the,! Pruners to clip twigs and branches less than 1/2-inch how to prune crepe myrtle is late spring and crepe. The overall volume of blooms near the base each spring, remove dead branches, thin out the of. In Florida pruning should be done remember, they can reach heights of 100′ or more turning... Choose the strongest two or next season top them annually, but will! Blooms have died off catawba has a light gray-brown bark, which their... Concerns people most in the South pass the acid test how beautiful the tree my. External site that may be shared with YouTube season, so pruning wo! Do I trim a crepe myrtle how to prune crepe myrtle the blooms have died off be improved. Major nutrient most commonly deficient in high pH soil is indeed alkaline, you agree to our to thicker! December and February grow & grow do n't know if this was the cause or,! When pruned more gently couple of seasons, the look of the tree and lead to damage disease. Select a sunny location, and heartfelt sentiments for your crape myrtles, many not.

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