tree mishaped in effort to get sunlight

Asked July 21, 2015, 5:12 PM EDT

I have a crape myrtle that has been shaded by a large tree for many years. That tree has been completely removed. I find that in searching for sun, some of the crape myrtle branches have bowed so that the blooms touch the ground. Can the tree be "straightened" out? or do the branches need to be removed. They are loaded with blooms and otherwise appear to be quite healthy. Suggestions?

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

Crapemyrtles are beautiful plants.
They do like full sun, and like many plants, they may bend to get more light.
Usually if they don't get enough light, they don't bloom well, but it sounds as if yours are happy.
There are many varieties of types of crapemyrtles, some grow very small and shrubby, and others grow upright like a tree to 30 feet tall. Growth type varies as well as some grow upright, some grow with the tips gracefully hanging over in a vase shape and so on. Some develop attractive bark and lower foliage is trimmed back so you can appreciate the bark year round, especially in the winter.
Any idea what variety yours is? It would help to know what form it naturally wants to grow in. Any chance it's a vase-shaped one and the flowers are just weighing the branch down?
That said, crape myrtles can definitely be pruned and shaped, and often are, though under the best conditions where they are planted in a well-chosen site, they need no pruning at all. (Some people think they need to be severely pruned back to clubs each year which we jokingly refer to as 'crape murder').
They bloom on new wood made each year so you are not sacrificing the flowers.
The best time to do it is in early spring just before they leaf out.