4. The size of the tree depends on your budget. Losing their jobs? 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. It's how to properly prune their crepe myrtles Here's a step-by-step guide showing how the Grumps prunes his. These soils do this because they're alkaline. 4) Crape Myrtles need at least 6 hours of DIRECT SUN for good, long summer bloom. Name – Lagerstroemia indica Family – Lythraceae Type – tree or shrub Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) Exposure – full sun, part sun Soil – rich enough Foliage – deciduous Flowering – May to October. They will grow in shade, but blooms will be sparse, and plants will get leggy. There are some generalities that can be applied to any pruning task. Think about how their shape might be improved. Topping causes profuse growth at the site of the pruning, basal sprouting, and increases susceptibility to disease and insects. Now is the perfect time to plant these beautiful trees, which come in many colors and sizes to fit your needs and space. Small crepe myrtle pruning is a bit different from regular pruning. First, less is more. If you have a crepe myrtle that produces long seasons of blooms, then you may wish to refrain from pruning it. Crapemyrtle may be tip pruned during the growing season to promote flowering or to remove spent flowers and seed capsules. I always say if a bird can easily fly through the center of your crepe myrtle, the branches are spaced about right. Others hack back these plants to keep them from getting too big. Every year, the job gets easier. Container-grown trees are easy to transport and transition into the garden well. Email The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Tip pruning promotes flowering because dormant buds below the cuts are stimulated to grow, and flowers form at tips of new growth. ‘Tis the season to ditch your all-white palette in favor of something a little bolder and brighter. Finally, crepe murder is a copycat crime. Southern Living is part of the Meredith Home Group. The first is to completely replace the existing soil with acid soil, so you can grow acid-loving plants. It encourages new growth that is too dense to allow air movement and light to reach the inner branches. 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. Prune Crepe Myrtle Trees Like an Expert. Nope. 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. Big crepe myrtles, such as ‘Dynamite,' ‘Natchez,' and ‘Tuscarora,' will grow 20 feet or more. When choosing that method of pruning to choose, you may want to consider the effects they have on blooming. The crepe myrtle you see above is deep-pink 'Miami.' Gather pruning equipment. When pruning a crepe myrtle, remember that these trees have vigorous growth habits, so pruning needs to be carried out annually because the tree will quickly regrow to its former size if it isn’t kept in check. When people think of crepe myrtles, they envision warm summer days and pink, red, lavender, and white flower clusters sagging in the sun. These folks need to remember that crepe myrtles are small trees, not foundation shrubs. WATCH: What's Wrong With My Crepe Myrtle? L… To encourage blooming, prune immediately after flowers are spent. It blooms in abundance in summer and fall, with huge panicles of densely packed, crinkled flowers. — Charlie Thigpen. The fuller and denser a small crepe myrtle are, the less pruning … However, most modern cultivars of crepe myrtle are disease resistant, and so this is not an issue, and the thinning out of twigs is no longer recommended as essential. This is what I call "crepe murder." Planting, pruning and caring for it contributes to the beautiful blooming of crepe myrtle. However; if you are okay with a more “natural” look you can prune your Crepe Myrtles every 3-5 years. Because a lot of you take guidance from your ignorant neighbors neighbors, who prune their crepe myrtles to look like this. However, if you have already got a crepe myrtle taking up too much space in your yard, then pruning might be necessary for your situation. The best time to prune your crepe myrtle depends on your reasons for pruning it. 5) Watch for Crape Myrtle Asian Bark Scale, it turns the trunks completely black and must be treated systemically and topically. Crepe myrtle bush pruning is imperative because the bushes can overgrow, occupying much space and eventually spreading to … Leaving them on the tree reduced my Xmas decorating each year to 10 seconds. A far better solution is simply to select plants that like alkaline soil. I planted it in my front yard from a 3-gallon pot 15 years ago. 2. These stumped branches will produce new twigs, and each year you should remove the twigs and cut back to the same place you previously cut. After all, you can always go back and cut more. Topping may yield larger flowers but does not increase the overall volume of blooms. We have over 55 varieties available of miniature, dwarf, medium and standard (tree) crape myrtles. Here is the crepe myrtle before I started. Certified arborist Wes Hopper prunes a Crape Myrtle that has previously been “murdered,” or the top has been chopped off. These whips are too weak to hold up the flowers, so the branches often bend to the ground, like a drunk who's about to lose his lunch. Crepe myrtles need full sun to perform well. Crepe Myrtle pruning is important to make sure your tree flourishes. Southern Living. This is known as ‘tipping’ and will reduce the size of the tree while retaining an attractive look. They make excellent street trees and can be used in large yards. Since crape myrtles carry their blooms on new growth, you should remove old stems in the late winter or the early spring while the plant is still dormant. A forest of skinny, whip-like shoots sprouts from the end of each ugly stump. Branches growing at awkward angles that detract from the tree's appearance. Pole pruners or a pruning saw to cut branches more than 1-1/2 inches thick. 3. Avoid heavy pruning during fall because this will make the tree more vulnerable to winter damage, and it also means the tree will look unattractive through winter. Here are the downsides to pruning a crape myrtle back to an ugly 3- to 4-foot nub every year. The tree is actually native to parts of Australia and Asia. Reach down now, and pull them off at ground level. To prune a mature crepe myrtle, you're going to need a few different types of pruning tools. All higher branches growing inward towards the center of the tree. As they grow taller, gradually remove all side branches up to a height of four to five feet. Or replace it with a dwarf or semidwarf selection. This is the best time to prune if you are reshaping the tree, removing deep or weak branches, trying to encourage new growth or size maintenance. Dont leave big, ugly stubs. Train these trunks to grow upward and outward from the base of the plant. ‘. Limestone deposits occur in every Southern state except Louisiana; the soil in many parts of Missouri, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida is alkaline. Then, aided by my lovely unseen wife who agreed to take pictures, I finally pruned it to show you how it's done and how a mature crepe myrtle is supposed to look. This practice should be avoided for a whole host of reasons, but if you do find yourself in a position where you need to prune back your crepe myrtle, there are several options you can choose that will not harm your plant or leave you with an ugly winter stump on your lawn. Also, tipping is impractical with large plants. Hand pruners to clip twigs and branches less than 1/2-inch thick. These can be planted in tight areas where you want a tree but have little space. Cut off suckers from the bottom, rubbing and cross growing branches … So plant them out in the yard -- not in front of your bay windows. Pruning saw or pole pruners for cutting branches that are more than 1 ½ inches thick. Pruning is done in winter when the plant is dormant, between the months of December and February. Prune large branches back to a crotch. This will also tidy up your tree if you don’t like the look of spent flowers or seed pods. This is a deciduous plant that can be either a tree or a large shrub. Use some sharp shears or a pruning saw to remove occasional branches; these should be younger branches that do not have a very thick diameter. All side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet. It typically occurs in regions with sparse rainfall, such as West and North Texas and western Oklahoma. It prevents the formation of pretty, mottled bark on maturing trunks. If you have a more traditional cultivar or crepe myrtle, which does not stay in flower for long, then pruning away spent flowers will encourage it to bloom again. Firstly, compared to regular crepe myrtles, small crepe myrtles have a slower growth rate. In the winter, you can remove old seedpods by clipping the tips of branches. By doing this, you can sometimes get three or even four blooming periods from your plant each year. Growing Trees in Pots - Benefits, Tips & Tricks, Autumn Blaze Maple Tree - Growing & Care Guide, Japanese Maple Tree - Care and Growing Tips, Different Types of Maple Trees with Pictures, Clementine Tree Care and Propagation Tips. Select these trees while they are in bloom. It also blooms on new growth, so pruning now won't reduce blooming. When pruning a crepe myrtle, dont chop your large crepe myrtles down to ugly stubs each spring just because your neighbors do. Loppers to cut branches 1/2-inch to 1-1/2 inches thick. If so, here is a pruning task everyone can agree on. ‘Acoma,' ‘Hopi,' and ‘Zuni' are small trees and will grow 7 to 10 feet high. Prune only to maintain natural form. Choose the right size for your landscape to help avoid the ultimate Southern gardening sin, "crepe murder" (severely pruning your tree to just a few sticks and ruining its natural form). Or go for compact, lower-growing kinds, like 'Acoma,' 'Centennial,' 'Hopi,' 'Prairie Lace,' 'Victor,' 'Zuni,' of the Petite Series from Monrovia. It's the high crime of horticulture–the senseless, annual chopping back of beautiful crepe myrtles. When to Prune Crepe Myrtle. We have given it the name “crape murder.” Blooming Crape Myrtle Along a Walking Path. If you follow these guidelines, then your crape myrtle will be a very low maintenance plant that does not need regular pruning. Crepe myrtle is an amazing ornamental summer-blooming shrub.. Key Crepe myrtle facts. 3. A lot of people engage in it because they see their neighbors doing it. Crepe myrtles grow naturally in a graceful vase shape. The seed pods can also be quite heavy and might drag down your tree branches under their weight, and this is another reason that is in favor of pruning the crepe myrtle. Certainly, in older varieties of crepe myrtle, the tree should have its branches thinned out to ensure good airflow to prevent disease. Properly pruning you crape myrtle will maximize blooms, promote new growth and give your plant a great shape. The flowers of crepe myrtle are the reason why it is so popular. Remember, they can vary greatly in size and bloom colors. In fact, it may increase it. It thrives in warm temperatures, being hardy through USDA Hardiness Zones 7–9, and so is popularly cultivated in these types of climates around the world. If you already have a well-maintained crepe myrtle, regular pruning at the end of each winter or beginning of spring can keep it from becoming overgrown. The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. No matter how many times I tell folks not to chop their crepe myrtles into big, ugly stumps each spring, they do it anyway, maiming the beautiful trunks and ruining the natural treelike form. When it gets older, this is … Below we have provided some example of … Crape myrtles bloom on the new season’s growth in spring, so trimming them in February before new grow starts is ideal. For year-round interest, remember this Southern classic. I leave mine. Trim off last year’s flower heads by cutting ¼ inch from an outward facing bud or branch (See photos below, #1). I like pruning quite hard because in spring the branch will shoot out with new growth. Whether you spell it “ crapemyrtle “, “crape myrtle”, or “crepe myrtle” we are talking about when to prune this beautiful flowering plant. Some people think they need to prune off old seed heads to have blooms the following year. That will keep your crepe myrtle from turning into a thick, unkempt shrub. Loppers, which are used to cut thicker branches that are higher up. Brilliant blooms will be replaced by orange, red, and yellow foliage for an outstanding autumn show. A forest of skinny, whip-like shoots sprouts from the end of each ugly stump. If you need a small tree with showy summer blooms, try crepe myrtle or chaste tree. Want to see more Southern Living videos? 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. These hardy trees have few pest or disease problems, and they require little water and fertilizer. There are many cultivars of crepe myrtle available, with dwarf varieties that do not exceed three feet in height, through to large trees that can range in height from 30 feet to 100 feet. If a bird can easily fly through the center of your house, you're probably missing some windows. Why do you need my advice? Loppers for cutting branches with ½ to 1 ½ inches thick. Gretchen Heber (@gretchenheber) Medium ones, such as ‘Centennial Spirit,' ‘Tuskegee,' and ‘Yuma,' grow 15 to 20 feet tall and work well around sidewalks and terraces but can still be planted close to the house. But perhaps "crepe murder" is a matter of taste, not intelligence. Medium selections (less than 20 feet tall) include ‘Near East' (pink) and ‘Regal Red' (deep red). Subscribe to our channel! It is important not to prune the tops of crepe myrtle trees to make them bloom. Unfortunately, many homeowners and landscape professionals prune crape myrtle trees too severely. A tree that is just pruned at the tips will not have its flowering ability negatively affected. But if you don't want to prune, then just let the plant grow to its natural shape. The bark of the tree has a mottled effect, and it sheds itself throughout the year to reveal fresh bark beneath. 1. The crepe myrtle is still a little denser than I would like, but I can prune it again next winter. Each plant is different. The trendy haircuts you’ll be seeing everywhere next year. Research by the University of Florida indicates that if a suitable cultivar is selected and planted in an appropriate position, then you should never have to prune a crepe myrtle. In order to prune the crepe myrtle, you might need some of the following tools: Hand pruners for clipping twigs and branches with less than 1/2 inch thick. I think it was coined by Byers Nursery, a big wholesale grower of crepe myrtles in Huntsville, Alabama. The more severely you prune the tree, the more blooming will be affected. (12/25/20) Crape myrtles are one of the most controversial and often-discussed ornamental plants. Then, when the temperatures drop in the fall, leaves gradually transform from green to sparkling fall hues. Once you’ve chosen the right crape myrtle variety, regular pruning will help you maintain the desired shape, keep the plant healthy and maximize the blooms. 1. Isn't it purty? 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On that cultivar of crepe myrtle, you 're not a must as they tend to a! ; remove any others at ground level bad, but I can prune again! Feet tall, making them perfect for small gardens “ natural ” look you can always go back cut!