How to prune crepe myrtles into trees

How to Style Crapemyrtles into Shapely Trees

Follow these simple pruning tips to achieve beautiful crapemyrtle trees

By Kimberly Toscano

Whether you call them crepe myrtles or crape myrtles, these summer blooming plants are extremely adaptable and fast growing and are ideal for shaping into single- or multi-trunked trees. Pruning crapemyrtles into tree-forms accentuates plant architecture and highlights the showy, dappled bark. Compact, modern cultivars like those in the Delta Series make it easy to incorporate these stunning specimens into any sized landscape.

Selecting Your Style of Crapemyrtle

Delta Series Crapemyrtles can be grown in their natural form or trained into single- or multi-stemmed trees. Each style lends a unique aspect to the garden. Multi-stemmed plants yield an upright, vase-like profile reminiscent of old tree-sized specimens like ‘Natchez,’ but with scaled-down dimensions just right for today’s landscapes. Single trunk crapemyrtles have the formal air of a standard when young and develop shapely, rounded crowns with age.

Plant tree-form crapemyrtles singly for a captivating focal point or line them along a walkway in a stunning allée. Incorporate single- or multi-stemmed crapemyrtles around the patio, either in the ground or containers, to provide lasting structure and vibrant color.

Standard crapemyrtles look particularly elegant in containers. Use them to flank the front door for a sophisticated entryway. With a long bloom season, showy foliage, and dappled bark, Delta Series Crapemyrtles are sure to impress.

Pruning Multi-Stemmed Crapemyrtles

Shaping these flowering trees into multi-stemmed trees is surprisingly easy; here’s how to plan your pruning cuts. To create a multi-trunk form, select three to five of the most vigorous stems and remove all others at ground level. Develop a strong framework by selecting stems that are well spaced and growing at a slight angle away from one another. This will produce a lovely vase-shaped form.

Remove branches from the lowest one-third of each main trunk. Selectively prune upper branches along each stem to shape a flowing, open canopy. Remove branches that cross one another or grow through the interior of the crown. As the crapemyrtle grows, continue to remove lower branches and any suckers that emerge from the base of the plant.

Training Crapemyrtles to a Single Trunk Tree

Shaping a single-stemmed crapemyrtle requires a bit of patience in your pruning technique. Start with a young plant and identify which shoot to train into your trunk.

Look for a strong stem that is growing straight and upright. Then, remove all other shoots. It may be necessary to stake the trunk to keep it upright.

Next, remove branches from the lower portion of the stem, exposing one-third to one-half of the trunk. This process will need to be repeated as new branches emerge. Each winter, continue to shape the tree by removing branches so that the visible portion of the trunk accounts for one-third to one-half of the overall plant height.

Shape the dense growth of the canopy by thinning back to the strongest stems. Encourage even growth in all directions, and remove branches that grow across or through the canopy. Thin interior branches each winter as needed to maintain good light penetration.

When to Prune Crapemyrtles: Basic Tips

Crapemyrtles flower on new growth, so pruning during the growing season would remove new flower buds. The best time to prune crapemyrtles is during the dormant season, in late winter to early spring, before new growth emerges.

A well-trained crapemyrtle will not need much pruning, but it is a good idea to inspect plants for damaged, dead, and crossing or rubbing branches. Remove these to improve overall plant health and appearance. Also thin out interior branches as needed to maintain good light penetration, which will promote better flowering.

Watch for suckers emerging from the roots or along the lower portions of the main trunk(s). As needed, cut suckers back to the ground when they are young and tender. Finally, many cultivars respond well to deadheading throughout the summer. Simply cut off spend flowers to encourage a fresh flush of blooms.

​Trim your Crape Myrtles like a pro. Don't make these 4 mistakes.

You might be wondering.. How should I prune my Crape Myrtles like the pros do. 

No worries, this is a common question we get and by the end of this article you'll understand how to prune your crepe myrtle trees without making the same mistakes you've seen your neighbors make.

First things first

You need to decide what look you would like for your tree to have

  • Single Trunk
  • Multi Stem
  • Natural Look

Now the good news is that Crape Myrtles are one darn tough plant. So the bottom line is if you make a mistake most likely your tree will recover in a few seasons.

Most people don't know this

The reason you should prune your Crape Myrtles is because of one reason… blooms.

Only the new growth each year is what produces those lovely blooms that you admire each spring and summer.

So with that being said, it pays to prune your Crape Myrtles in the winter months as soon as November at as late at March when they are dormant.

The good news is most Crape Myrtles can be pruned with hand held shears or long handles loppers. If yours are way out of control, then a chainsaw might be necessary in the most extreme cases.

So now on to the good stuff.

Click on image to view larger

When you prune your Crape Myrtle the proper way it will will maximize blooms, promote new growth and give your plant a great shape.

That said.. Your pruning is done in winter when the Crape Myrtle is dormant, between the months of December and February.

The good news is that super aggressive pruning that you might have seen around town is not actually needed to get a beautiful, healthy plant. Picture Picture Picture

But that's just part of the story.

You need to know about “Crape Murder"

"Crape Murder" is what the pros say describe the butchering of Crape Myrtles.

What's more… When Crape Murder is committed it can literally appear that half, or more, of the plant has been removed.

On the one hand... This technique is used by some no professional landscapers and homeowners because it's quick, fairly easy, the plant almost always recovers.. Fair enough , BUT This technique is NOT recommended as it may damage you plant. OK… that's fine you say… but meanwhile you might be wondering "What are Suckers?"

Simply put .. the "Suckers" are the new growth that comes from the base of the trunk.

Most professional lawn care services and homeowners who know what they are doing will prune these off.

Now with that being said , if you want your Crape Myrtle to have a more "natural" look or would maybe would even prefer for it to grow multiple trunks, then the good news is you can leave some of the suckers to grow up. The best part? Blooms will appear on new growth suckers.

Now…these are your Crape Myrtle’s… So it's up to you how you would like for them to look. But it helps to identify which pruning style meets your ideal look, so keep reading to find out more about the three main pruning styles.

The Single Trunk

In my opinion , the single trunk Crape Myrtle is one of the more beautiful shapes the tree can take on with proper pruning, however, will require the most investment in pruning each year. 

Why is the case? First you'll need to remove any extra stems protruding from the ground, as well as any suckers. 

Next you what all of the tree’s branching to happen at the top quarter of your tree. That said, you’ll need to pick a dominant single trunk for the tree, and prune away another others at the base.

If you choose the single trunk method its best to start while the Crape Myrtle tree is younger as more established trees most likely can not be retroactively pruned to this style and shape.


The multi trunk look for Crape Myrtles is probably the most common professional trimming approach. It is relied upon by lawn care services all over the country to establish beautiful Crape Myrtle bushes full of blooms each spring and summer for their clients.

So to make a point… to achieve the multi stem look, allow your Crape Myrtle to branch along the length of the stem and follow these steps
  1. Try to prune later in winter, February is ideal.
  2. Cut off suckers from the bottom, rubbing and cross growing branches and branches growing inward.
  3. Gradually cut off all side branches from the main base as the tree gets taller.
  4. Never leave lone or clustered stubs.
  5. Be sure to remove unwanted branches before they get too thick (thickness of a pencil).

Finally… The Natural Look

So you might not know this but allowing your Crape Myrtle to grow into its natural shape has been the trend in recent years. So the good news is you can tell that to your neighbors and even better this approach requires little to no pruning.

It's easy.. Just allow your plant to branch and spread naturally. Your Crape Myrtle will still bloom and be beautiful so long as it's watered and fertilized properly

The bottom line is….

Crape Myrtles are one of the most resilient and prune-able plants I have ever seen. So its really just a matter of your preference how much time and effort you are willing to invest into heir pruning and care. There's really no "wrong" way to do it, so experiment and have fun!

Meanwhile… I'll leave you with a helpful how to video on pruning your Crape Myrtles.

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Crepe myrtle tree good for anything?

Is crepe myrtle good for anything? But misnomers aside, piinma is still a great wood for many great woodworking projects. Related Pyinma species such as Lagerstroemia indica are commonly sold as ornamental trees and are referred to as Crepe Myrtle.

Is crepe myrtle hardwood? Crepe Myrtle is generally considered an ornamental shrub or small tree. The tree itself has a very hard wood that can be used for craft purposes.

Does crepe myrtle make good firewood? yes. Crepe myrtle wood can be good for firewood.

Is myrtle good wood? Myrtle will be very good firewood. My friend grew up on a coastal dairy farm in Oregon and they used and burned a ton of myrtle wood as a heat source.

What can crepe myrtle be used for?

New varieties of Crepe Myrtles can be used in a variety of garden and landscaping conditions. They make excellent ornamental trees in the garden or on the lawn, allowing the winter sun to penetrate, and now they can also be used in beds.

What is the lifespan of a crêpe myrtle tree?

Crepe myrtles live for quite a few years if you take good care of them. The lifespan of a crepemirt can exceed 50 years. Here is the answer to the question “how long do crepe myrtle live?” They can live well for a long time with proper care.

Should I crepe myrtle?

Q: Do you need to cut the crepe myrtle to get more flowers? A: No, you don't need to prune the southern lilac (crepe or crepe myrtle, depending on which source you go to), but it does help stimulate more flowers when you do - if you can get to them.

What type of wood should not be used in a fireplace?

I think it goes without saying that you don't want to burn wood in your fireplace that has the word "poison" in its name. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, etc. They release an irritating oil into the smoke and can cause you big problems, especially if you are allergic to them.

Which wood burns poisonously?

Beware of any tree covered with vines. Burning poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, or anything else with the word "poison" in the name releases the irritating urushiol oil into the smoke.

Is myrtle wood toxic?

The scent of the aromatic plant is strong enough to cause sneezing and headache if the leaves are crushed and smelled. Culinary use is not recommended because it contains umbellulone, a toxic mucosal irritant, and safrole, a known carcinogen.

Can I burn pecans in a home fireplace?

Pecan is an excellent wood for cooking, smoking barbecues and fireplaces. It is one of the best hardwoods and burns with very little smoke. This is a great mix to burn with other aromatic woods. Pecans are the choice of many professional chefs for grilling and smoking, as well as in pizza ovens.

What is the best way to season firewood?

To properly season your firewood, store it in a place where it can be warmed by the sun and ventilated by the wind. One row, open to the sun and the prevailing winds, is best - as the sun heats and evaporates the water from the wood, the wind blows it away. Season for season.

Does Laurel make good firewood?

Laurel - (Scientific name - Noble Laurel). It must be well seasoned and give a good flame. However, it only has a reasonable heat output, making it not ideal for all types of fires. However, this wood is very easy to cut and prepare for fire.

What happens if you don't trim the crepe myrtle?

Many varieties have beautiful bark and growth habits that can be enjoyed all year round if the trees are not severely pruned. This unsightly, ugly pruning, known as murder crepe, is not recommended. Once this is done, it will destroy the tree's graceful natural form for the rest of its life.

Does myrtle attract birds?

They make excellent examples of trees that can be grown in the garden or in a large pot. They can be grown as a front yard hedge or used as a border, along a fence line, or as an outdoor plant. Crepe myrtle attracts bees and birds.

Is it possible to plant crepe myrtle near the house?

According to the Dayton Nursery, you can plant myrtle near the foundation as it has non-invasive roots. However, be sure to plant them far enough away from the foundation and building so that the shrub can grow to its full size without blocking the building.

Are crepe myrtle roots invasive?

Crepe Myrtle Root System: Are Crepe Myrtle Roots Invasive

Crepe Myrtle Trees are beautiful, delicate trees that offer bright, showy flowers in summer and beautiful fall color when the weather starts to cool. You don't have to worry about this problem because crepe myrtle roots are non-invasive.

Why does my crepe myrtle look dead?

Crepe myrtles hibernate every winter. At the dormant stage, the crepe loses all its leaves and looks like a dead tree. You will have to wait a few more weeks of consistently warm weather for them to bloom again. Another way to determine if a crepe is dead or not is to do a "scratch test".

Which crepe myrtle blooms the longest?

If you're looking for the longest bloom times, look for lavender purple Muskogee or white Natchez. You will enjoy flowers for months! Muskogee is also one of the few Crape Myrtles that are recommended for Zone 11.

How to keep crepe myrtle blooming?

To dispose of crepe myrtles, simply cut off the flower heads as soon as the color starts to fade. If you're not trying to encourage a second bloom, leave the flowers alone and enjoy the lovely seed heads that follow.

Do crepe myrtles bloom more than once?

Crepe myrtle can indeed have two flowering cycles. In some years, the first flowering cycle of the crepemirt lasts a month or more. In other years, he seems to leave too soon. Have you ever wished these gorgeous mop head sized flowers would last weeks longer?

In which month do you prune your crepe myrtle?

Early spring before new growth is the best time to prune crepe myrtles. Whenever you prune, you are causing the tree to grow again. The new growth that has begun now will not have time to get stronger before frost.

Is it possible to burn 2×4 in a fireplace?

From a practical standpoint, commercially dried, clean cut lumber (also called dimension lumber) is a fairly safe alternative to traditional firewood. Since they do not have bark and are usually kept indoors, this is a very low risk timber choice. Treated wood is highly toxic when burned.

Can Robinia wood be burned?

This is a popular wood for making furniture, but it also makes excellent firewood. It burns very slowly and forms a small flame. However, it gives a good flame. Robinia - (scientific name - Robinia pseudoacacia) produces thick black smoke which is not a problem when burned on a stovetop.

Which wood should not be used for cooking?

Soft woods such as pine, mahogany, fir, cedar and cypress are not suitable for cooking because they contain terpenes and sap. This gives the meat an unpleasant taste. Each wood gives its own fragrance.

When do crepe myrtles bloom? Caring for your fairy flowers

Crepe myrtles are very popular flowering shrubs and trees known for their vibrant and long lasting flowers.

Muskogee crepe myrtles make beautiful hedges or property borders. Crepe myrtle blooms around late spring, usually early summer, between mid-May and early June.

Amazingly beautiful flowering lasts up to 90-120 days depending on environmental conditions and various other factors, including variety of shrubs or trees. The crepe myrtle leaf has vibrant autumn colors. This leaf is used for decorative purposes.

The flowering period may vary from place to place depending on climatic and environmental conditions. But the results that follow are just worth the wait. During the flowering period, the trees are covered with beautiful flowers of different shades of pink, solid pink, lilac or red. These brightly hypnotic flowers delight the eye. Fine and long lasting flowers make these trees attractive to plant lovers and green fingers. But the main problem here is not late flowering. Not at all, the main problem occurs when the growing season comes and the plant does not bloom as expected. After reading all about crepe myrtle in your garden, you will also want to know how often orchids bloom and

when tulips bloom.

Why aren't my crepe myrtles blooming?

When you take care of your plants with all your heart all year long and still don't get satisfactory results, the experience is downright daunting. While getting these plants to bloom is not a tough nut to crack, it can still seem like a daunting task sometimes when you don't get the results you were looking for.

Basically, there can be several reasons why your myrtle flowers did not bloom as expected. Although they usually bloom late, as they bloom by the time all other flowering shrubs have already faded. They bloom last among shrubs and flowering trees. In addition, there may be other reasons causing the flowering problem, such as aphids.

The cause can be related to many different problems. The aphids living in them could be one of many reasons. It can be environmental or cultural factors, poor pruning in dark and cold winters, lack of fertilizer, or maybe too much!

Late pruning: When crepe myrtle plants are pruned late in the season, new wood may be erroneously removed, which can affect flower bud development.

Lack of sunlight: Another important reason may be lack of sunlight. These flowering plants require a significant amount of sunlight, about six hours a day, so a location with poor access to sunlight can affect their flowering cycles.

Need for fertilizer: Sometimes, when everything seems to be in order, the problem may be in the soil. It should be regularly checked for the absence of phosphorus, as this minor cause can affect the growth of greenery.

Too much nitrogen: Too much nitrogen can also affect the growth of crepe myrtle flowers. Too much nitrogen promotes leaf health but does not help flowers.

Do crepe myrtles bloom at different times?

Crepe myrtles are very well known for their bright and long lasting flowers that usually appear in summer. The flowering period usually starts from mid-May to early June. This continues for 13-20 weeks. In which the trees bloom in different colorful colors, available in white, pink and a light shade of purple or red. It's also interesting to know that these shrubs or trees usually bloom later than any other flowering plant you might find in your garden. In autumn, the foliage takes on a light shade from pale yellow to deep red.

The flowering process also depends on many factors, including environmental conditions, availability of sunlight and water, timing of pruning and, most importantly, the variety of plants you have. Depending on the variety you have, the flowering process can vary between 6-8 weeks.

While some varieties bloom in May, others may have to wait until July or even later.

The number of flowers also depends on the availability of proper sunlight, so direct sunlight also plays an important role in the flowering process. Similarly, another factor is proper and timely pruning. Heavily pruned plants will bloom longer. In addition, the use of a slow-release, high-phosphorus fertilizer in early spring promotes more colorful and abundant blooms.

What happens if you don't trim the crepe myrtle?

Crepemirts need little or no pruning. If the crepe myrtle has been planted in an area with enough sunlight and room to grow, you can get a rounded canopy without pruning. In many cases, the crown grows so large that pruning is useless. If you don't choose the right place to plant, branches can reach the sidewalks or roadsides, demanding attention. Crepe myrtles are known to produce many flowers if left untrimmed. Flowering of crepe myrtle decreases with increased pruning. What's more, crepemyrt blooms tend to be greater in circumcised crepemyrts than in uncircumcised crepemyrts. But you should avoid the unattractive pruning known as "crepe killing" as it destroys the beauty of the crepe myrtle tree.

Tips for pruning crepe myrtle

Pruning crepe myrtle is very important if you are expecting extravagant blooms during the flowering season, so it is highly recommended. But pruning must be done better to achieve the desired results of abundant flowering in summer. Dwarf varieties grow to about 3–5 feet (0. 9–1.52 m), while non-dwarf myrtle varieties can reach a height of 20 feet (6 m), several feet taller than other such trees.

Professional growers often aggressively prune large stems and bulky branches to limit and control growth. size, because the branches take up too much space and lift up the production of more blooming and abundant summer bloom; which is commonly known as "Pancake Murder". Maybe because after processing only a bare trunk remained, for the winter and flowering in early spring. You are advised to prune myrtles at the end of winter and not at the beginning of winter and early spring. In late winter or spring, it is important to prune the crepe myrtle to avoid cutting off the buds that will lead to new growth. It is always recommended not to prune aggressively during the winter. Pruning should be done at the right time and should be avoided at the end of the winter or spring season.

Although pruning helps crepe myrtles with new growth and fresh wood. It is always recommended to avoid this. Excessive pruning generally results in less flowering. Due to over pruning, trees lose a lot of branches, and in the flowering season, instead of more flowers and flowers, trees have to share food to grow new branches and branches, which leads to less flowering.

Crepe Myrtle Care

When you show your care and affection for anything, be it your pet dog or beautiful flowering myrtle, the results are more positive than you might expect. This not only allows the tree to bloom and bloom more beautifully, but also increases the lifespan of the plant to a greater extent.

There are a few simple steps you can take to take care of your crepe myrtle. You need to make sure you have enough space for your trees or shrubs. You need to make sure that your plant is in a place where it gets enough sunlight. Sunlight is an important requirement for shrubs or crepe myrtle trees with a minimum of six hours of sun exposure. In addition, he must receive enough water and fertilizer as required. While less can be fatal, excess water or fertilizer will cause foliage to overgrow and these foliage will be costly to produce flowers. Proper pruning is also very important for proper plant growth. For best results, pruning should be done carefully and avoided before it has flowered.

You should regularly prune dried and dead tree branches. This step will allow comparatively more sunlight and air to reach the tree than before. Also, don't just focus on shrinking or downsizing by pruning the tree more often. You must also carefully enhance the appearance of the tree.

How long do crepe myrtles live?

The fact that crepe myrtle has been around for over a thousand years is certainly very surprising. These popular plants have been part of our lives for so long and are still very popular with plant lovers and people who share a love of ornamental plants.

The lifespan of crepe myrtle shrubs in general varies depending on their location in the environment and the climatic conditions in which they are planted.

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