too tall crape myrtle

Asked August 21, 2016, 8:39 AM EDT

Our 8 year old crape myrtle tree has grown to 25 feet and shows no sign of slowing it's skyward climb, no matter what I've done to prune it through the years. The flowers now only appear at the top. I had been lopping off the dead canes each February/March based on what I had read online, but new growth would jump about 3 feet from those cuts each spring. So I tried cutting off more (up to 3 feet) each early spring, to no avail. It keeps growing taller. I've been advised by a friend to cut it all back to under 8 feet in height and hope that it survives and blooms once again, encouraging the outward growth seen in crape myrtle trees everywhere else in this area. Should I cut it back that dramatically, and if so what time of year? Thanks!

Howard County Maryland

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. The time frame to prune is late winter to early spring as they bloom on new growth. They should be pruned to remove unhealthy branches, to remove suckers, and to allow more air movement in the tree canopy. It is up to you if you want to experiment.

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. For more information on pruning see the link from Clemson Cooperative Extension: http://Crape Myrtle Pruning.