pruning a crepe myrtle to become more tree like

Asked January 12, 2017, 7:53 PM EST

I have 2 crepes that are getting huge and bushy. What are the important tips on how to prune them so they resemble trees over time? Thanks! Debbie

Moore County North Carolina

1 Response

Bushy crepe myrtles are a consequence of poor pruning, particularly pruning cuts that are made with a hedge trimmer (in other words, "whacking" branches back to a stump. Thinning cuts, which is to say removal of entire branches back to their base, will result in a more tree formed approach. See this reference: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/general-pruning-techniques
especially looking at Figure 3.3, to see what is meant by thinning cuts. Also, look at this: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/pruning-trees-and-shrubs

Especially page 7 - you need more "thinning cuts", and fewer "heading cuts" to make a tree-formed crepe myrtle.

Other references: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/how-to-prune-specific-plants