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Old 08-13-2008, 08:34 PM
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How to prune a Crape Myrtle

Yes, the tree site doesn't seem to be up an running much yet. Just wondering about how to prune and take care of a crape myrtles over the years to get it to look more tree like with few lower branches. In other words more of a tree than a bush. I see several around this area that look great but most die back and eventually end up looking more like a bush than a tree. We are borderline zone 7 so they do not look as good and are not as easy to grow as they are further to the South East such as Charlotte, Atlanta, etc. I'm sure this post will be moved which is fine but there is no one on the new tree site area of Lawnsite/Moose River media. Any help would be appreciated. It rarely ever gets in the single digits here, especially the last few years but on a bad year we can get below 0 f. This is not my line of work so I'm definately new at this, this is for my own property. There are some nice looking ones around here so I know it can be done in the 6/7 zone. Thanks!
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:39 PM
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Found this - hope it helps....

Wait for the Crape Myrtle to sprout. In the late spring you should be able to see the new growth.

Look for the smaller, weaker stalks at the bottom of your plant. These are commonly called waterspouts or suckers.

Pick out the strongest stems at the bottom of your Crape Myrtle. Depending on the type of Crape Myrtle and the amount of pruning that has already been done, you should find between two and four strong stems to be your base.

Remove the weaker, less sturdy branches at the base of your tree. This includes any new growth at the base.

Work your way up the Crape Myrtle and clip of any limbs or new growth until you only see the strong stems. Step back as work so you leave an even top set of limbs.

Stop before you reach the top. Make sure you leave enough new growth at the top to have a full blooming tree.

Form the top of your tree and remove any dead limbs.


  • Prune your Crape Myrtle tree every spring. After you prune, but before your tree blooms, it should look similar to a large bonsai tree.
  • Do not cut all the new growth of the top of your tree.
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:11 AM
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Thanks Sean, that makes perfect sense. Just found TreeServicesSite and I'm looking forward to learning.:)
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:17 PM
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Glad you are here and we look forward to having many more informative and helpful topics discussed here at TreeServicesSite.com ...
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Old 08-28-2008, 06:39 PM
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Crepe Myrtles

Seans info looks good so I'll just try to add to it.

CMs are grown for their distinctive trunk almost as much as for their flowers.
These days you can find named varieties that will let you choose by color, size, hardiness and mildew resistance. So shop around for what will meet the need you have in mind.(From 2" dwarf to 25" tree)
Otherwise you will have to spend too much time on up keep.

Adding to Sean's info, Select an odd number of trunks (usually 3 or 5) for effect.

The National Arboredum has grown many named selections and could provide you with their best selections.
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Old 03-05-2009, 12:16 PM
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Remember with CM, blooms occur on old growth, so trimming this off before blooms will make the bush/tree look odd for a year.

Here is a decent link that will help.

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/L331.htm

Oh, and we have several that are doing well on our campus in Louisville. A protected area is key.
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:54 PM
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Crape Myrtle or Crap Myrtle????

Crape Myrtles should not be butchered as most people do. That is not pruning; it is "topping". Topping is bad! Only prune crossing, rubbing branches and codominant stems. I prefer single-trunk (Standard) trees. ISA and ANSI also prefers single-trunk trees. This is advice on how to prune all trees, not just crape myrtles. Maintain a central leader. Never cut off the tip of it. Keep temporary branches small in relation to the trunk. Kim Coder's "Arboritecture" teaches thirds. Ideally, you should have 1/3 clear trunk from the ground, and 2/3 foliage. As the tree gets taller, you can remove more from the bottom. Maintaining one central leader is key. Above all, look at your root system. Who cares how the tree is pruned, if it dies? Nurseries kill trees. Landscape installers kill trees. Utility contractors kill trees (not the overhead, it is the underground). Roots are vital. Girdling roots and planting too deeply are the problems I see most. For more info from International Society of Arboriculture, check out http://www.isa-arbor.com
my website is http://www.chrisfrancislandscapes.com
google page - http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&rl...m=1&ct=result#
Chris Francis is:
* ISA Certified Arborist
* AL State Licensed:
- Tree Surgeon
- Landscape Designer
- Landscape Contractor
- Pest Control Supervisor

I encourage everyone to look at what ISA has done for the tree industry.
I mostly work lower Alabama - Baldwin and Mobile Counties
Daphne, Fairhope, Montrose, Spanish Fort, Point Clear, Magnolia Springs, Mobile, Saraland, and surrounding areas.
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