1. I need to significantly prune Crepe Myrtle trees that are quite close to...

Asked February 10, 2015, 3:03 PM EST

1. I need to significantly prune Crepe Myrtle trees that are quite close to the house. They extend above the gutters at the second floor so I'd like to cut them back to half that size. Is it possible to prune that much and, if so, what is the best time of year to do it? 2. We have two knockout rose bushes that also need to be pruned a lot. I've heard they can be cut back to one third of their present size. Is that true and, if so, what is the recommended time of year to prune them? Thank you very much! John Weese

Anne Arundel County Maryland trees and shrubs pruning crape myrtles

1 Response

Crape myrtles require little to no pruning. The type and amount of pruning depends on the desired shape and size of the plant. There are many types of crape myrtles which include low shrubs to 30 foot tall tree types. Sounds like you are dealing with a tree type. They should be pruned to remove unhealthy branches, to remove suckers, and to allow more air movement in the tree canopy.
By drastically reducing the size of the crape myrtle you will get vigorous growth that is weak and without a nice form. The more pruning you have to do, the tree becomes weaker and less attractive with each pruning. If you decide to prune, the time frame is late winter to early spring.

The best way to maintain a crape myrtle at a particular size is to plant a known cultivar that will mature at the desired height and spread. You may want to consider planting a smaller type shrub in the area. You may be happier with another shrub than an unattractive crape myrtle. For more information on pruning see the link from Clemson Cooperative Extension http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/trees/hgic1009.html

Pruning knockout roses -Since Knock Out® roses only reach a maximum height of 4 feet and a width of about the same they do not require much pruning. Simply cut the canes back every year in late winter or early spring to approximately 24 inches. Cutting them back very severely, like a hybrid tea rose, is not recommended. They won’t die but will require a long time to recover. Periodically, older, declining, and broken canes will need to be removed. This can be done at any time of the year. See the attached link http://extension.umd.edu/learn/rose-rose-not-always