Pruning crossing/touching trunks on our Hopi Crape Myrtle.

Asked April 29, 2018, 3:13 PM EDT

We purchased two Hopi Crape Myrtle plants from a local nursery. They are nicely shaped but both have a couple of crossing/touching trunks. Is this going to be a problem in their growth, or do we need to cut the crossing/touching trunks? This will definitely take away from their nice shape!

Clackamas County Oregon

6 Responses

It will easier to respond to your questions if you send images of the trees. You can attach mages when you replay to this email.

Preferred are 2 to 3 images of each tree -- overall (entire tree) and a closer view or 2 of the troublesome branches.

I look forward to receiving your images.

This is the first crape Myrtle. I can only send three pictures at a time so I will send the second three next. Thanks, Jan

Here is the second Crape Myrtle. As you can see, the trunks are crossing/touching. We pruned upper branches that were doing this but we aren’t sure if the trunks that are crossed will cause a problem in the future. Thank you for your assessment. Jan R

Thank you for sending the images. They explain a lot. Yes, you should remove the crossing branch in each tree. (Soon.)

In each case, I believe that the "crosser" will eventually cause serious issues at the base of the tree, perhaps forcing each base to split.

Although the removals may affect the overall appearance of each tree, you'll be surprised at how rapidly new sprouts will fill the space. And, frankly, the longer you wait, the less likely you are to remove those troublesome branches.

In the first tree, remove the branch on the right side that goes backward and through the center and is currently tied to the stake.

In the second tree, the target branch on the right is smaller but may already be rubbing on the larger adjacent branch.

I noticed your bark chip mulch. (Good idea!) Each year or so, top it off so that it remains 3 to 4 inches deep.

I'll add a comment because I don't know how familiar you are with how crepe myrtles grow in the northwest. (We've already had several inquiries asking if their trees died over the winter.) These trees "wake up" late in our region; they need more heat than we've had to date.

Jean, Thank you for your advice! Jan

You're welcome.

Enjoy the new additions to your garden!