When and how do I trim 4 year old crape myrtle tree?

Asked March 14, 2016, 12:18 PM EDT

When and how do I trim 4 year old crape myrtle tree? They were trimmed by "landscaper" last year and part of the branches are now dead. It is rainy today, and the in the photo the green branches are actually the ones that are dead. May be hard to tell from the photos.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

Anything that you are sure is dead can be removed immediately.
Many people don't realize that crapemyrtles do not need to be pruned if they are planted in an area for them to grow happily.
If you do want to prune for some though, we would wait until the plant shows some signs of life, because they are marginally hardy here, and after the last harsh winter, many were winterkilled; some back to the ground to revive from roots, others never came back at all.
You can test some of the branches by gently bending them. Dead ones will snap. You can also scrape branches with your fingernail and hope for green tissue beneath. They bloom on new wood produced during the growing season, so later this month would be good is the best time to do it without losing flower buds. They are one of the latest to wake up in spring, so don't give up hope.
Pruning in fall or winter can reduce winter hardiness.
Here is our pruning publication: http://www.extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG84_Pruning%20o...