Pruning a Crepe Myrtle

Asked May 14, 2020, 7:51 AM EDT

Good morning. I have a crepe myrtle that was planted in an area close to the house. It fit perfectly in the planting area and looked much better when it was a smaller tree. I know that people excessively trim crepes, but I've read often that you shouldn't. I would really like for this tree to be smaller, with the leaves and blooms in view when sitting on the patio or when sitting in the adjacent sunroom. Do you recommend trimming? If so, how much can this tree be cut back? Thank you for your response.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

In general, crape myrtles require little pruning if they are sited according to mature height and width. If you want to prune and reduce height, we recommend doing it slowly. No more than one-fourth of the living crown should be removed at any one time. We recommend having a professional arborist thin out the tree and using best practices such as crown reduction and thinning. Here is our web page on pruning trees https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/pruning-trees

Also, here are some links on pruning a crape myrtle https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-451/430-451.html
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/crape-myrtle-pruning/
and a link to certified arborists http://www.treesaregood.org/

It is also up to you if you want to plant a cultivar that meets the site conditions or plant another species of plant.

Marian

Thanks so much Marian for the helpful information.

I do have some additional questions based on your response. Which cultivar would you recommend that would meet the site conditions better? Also what other species of plant should I consider for that area? Thanks again!


There are many beautiful choices of varying color, size and shape for crapemyrtles.
Here are some beauties introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum, bred for improved winter hardiness and or disease resistance:
https://usna.usda.gov/assets/images/as_standard_image/USNA_Crapemyrtle_Poster.pdf
It might be of value for you to know that many crapemyrtles are prized for multi-season interest, with lovely multi-colored peeling bark that stands out in winter.
You could consider keeping these as they are, or have a tree company or certified arborist (tree health expert) trim them and then add something else to the area- a couple of tall, interesting planters, a fountain or the like for interest from your patio or sunroom. (If you wanted a consultation with an arborist, you can search for one at www.treesaregood.org )
If you want something else, record the ideal size for that area and the amount of sun the area gets. Take that info to a good nursery and peruse what type of shrubs appeal to you that match your site conditions.


Christine