If you own a Crape Myrtle tree like I do, you know that we can't wait for those beautiful blooms to open up each spring. There are so many colors to chose from that is hard to know exactly which one to pick. Mine had pink blooms and is in its second year. I have a while to go before it outgrows my enormous Elephant Ears, but in a few years its branches will tower over them making this the focal point of my back yard. If you own one of these then you know to get the heavy blooms require proper pruning. Here are a few tips that you can use when pruning your Crape Myrtle tree.
It is important not to prune after August in an attempt to get a second set of flowers. When the winter is approaching the tree needs to go into a state of dormancy. Pruning your Crape Myrtle after August encourages new growth. If your Crape Myrtle does not become dormant by the winter it could kill the tree. If you have not pruned before this time, then it is best to wait until late winter or early spring. Besides, if you wait until late winter the branches will be visible without the leaves making it easier for you to decide on how you want to shape the tree.
When pruning your Crape Myrtle tree you will have to decide if you want a natural or formal look. Remember if you are afraid to prune your Crape Myrtle tree, then don't. It will be just fine. However, if you are ready to tackle this with an idea in mind, then get out your pruning shears and let's get busy. If you are going for the natural look, then concentrate on the inside branches. Pruning these branches will open up the tree. Also look for branches that rub against each other. You will want to trim one back that rubs against another to prevent disease from occurring. When two branches rub against each other it breaks down the bark and weakens it. When you are done removing these check the base of your tree for suckers. They should always be removed. They look unsightly and they rob nutrients from the rest of the tree.
If it is a formal look that you are opting for you should consider how high you want your Crape Myrtle tree, especially if you have a row of them. Once you decide this, then you are ready to go. Start at where the blooms begin and go down to where the branches intersect., then go back up about 6 inches and prune across all three. You should have a branch with three branches at the top of it protruding out about 6 inches. Wherever you cut the branches, you should expect 2 new branches to form there, thus increasing your blooms each year. Try to make this as uniform as possible with all the branches until the canopy has the desired shape. Don't forget to remove the suckers. Now that you realize that pruning your Crape Myrtle trees isn't that difficult you will feel more at ease when tackling yours. By next spring your Crape Myrtle tree should be prettier than ever.