When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland?

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Crape Myrtle: Pruning – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden February is the time of year you may notice stark “stubs” of crape myrtles in parking lots and other areas around town. Often crape myrtle is so harshly pruned only trunks are left, with the top half of the tree hacked off.

  1. The look is so prevalent that many believe this is the correct way to prune a crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia).
  2. Some might even think the trees need this type of harsh treatment.
  3. You may notice severely pruned crape myrtles in commercial landscapes.
  4. This is not a best practice! “Not so!” exclaim horticulturists and arborists.

In fact, there’s a movement to stop “crape murder” and share best practices. If the look isn’t appealing and doesn’t benefit the tree, why do people do it? “It’s faster and easier and, quite frankly, the crape myrtle can take it,” explains Horticulturist Dean Dietrich.

  • But just because the resilient crape myrtle can take the abuse doesn’t mean it should have to.
  • February is a good time to prune crape myrtles.
  • It should be done before fresh growth appears in March.
  • Its toughness makes crape myrtle a popular plant.
  • They are fast-growing and highly adaptable.
  • They come in many shapes and sizes and provide interest through the seasons.

The mottled barks of crape myrtles are attractive year-round, especially in the winter landscape, and the leaves offer fall color. Depending on the variety, in summer they offer frothy clouds of colorful blossoms ranging from white, pink, red, and purple.

  • The beautiful and interesting barks of crape myrtles are a standout in the winter landscape.
  • The horticulturists at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden have some suggestions to help you look at crape myrtles and pruning in a whole new way.
  • Step 1: Look at your tree It sounds so basic, but don’t rush this first step.

Dietrich explains, “Look at the limbs. What is your overall aesthetic? What do you want structurally? Do you want the branches to be overhanging to provide shade? Or are you looking for an upright form?” One of the reasons for the crape myrtles in the Sunken Garden is to provide shade for seating, so they are pruned according to that purpose.

  • Crape myrtles in the Sunken Garden.
  • You can see those on the right have already been pruned.
  • Step 2: Think ahead Which branches can you do without? How will the remaining branches grow? This future view is important because what you do now will influence the tree’s scaffolding.
  • Deciding what to leave in and what to take out requires judgment calls.

“If you cut too many of the small branches or “suckers,” you won’t have as much to work with in the future,” says Dietrich. This is especially the case should you ever want to bring the tree down in height. Typically you can prune up to one-third of the canopy.

Cut more than that and it may result in a stressed tree pushing out a lot of new growth. And if you don’t feel like pruning every year? You don’t have to. However, as Dietrich points out, “If you leave too many branches, it can be harder to retrain the tree when it is older.” Step 3: Making the Cut Safety is extremely important when pruning.

Make sure you have the proper equipment and follow safety protocols. It helps to have someone assisting you. The best tool is a hand-saw, however, you can also use hand pruners, pole pruners, and lopers, depending on the size of the branch. The first cut should be away from the tree trunk and on the underside of the branch.

Make the first cut underneath the branch at least several inches from the tree trunk. Cut about one-third of the way through the branch. Then start a second cut on top of the branch about an inch farther out than the first cut. Keep cutting until the branch breaks free. For the third cut, identify the branch collar. The branch collar is where the limb attaches to the tree. You want to cut cleanly across the outer edge of the branch collar (see the image.) You do not want to cut flush up against the tree.

Find the branch collar. The third cut should be on the outer edge of the branch collar. There should be a small stub left, which allows the bark to grow over and the tree to heal properly. There are always new varieties of crape myrtles coming out onto the market.

Be sure to know what you are getting before you purchase and think about how it will work in your landscape. Some varieties at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden include: Lagerstroemia ‘Lipan’ These line the outer edge of the Sunken Garden. They can grow 8- to 15- feet tall and have lavender-pink flowers. Lagerstroemia ‘Lipan’ blooming in the Sunken Garden.

Razzle Dazzle Series Developed by breeder Michael Dirr, the Razzle Dazzle series is known for their compact form and brilliant color; you can find them in the trade under the names: Ruby Dazzle (pink flowers with bronze-red foliage), Cherry Dazzle (cherry-red flowers), Snow Dazzle (white flowers), Dazzle Me Pink (pink flowers) and Raspberry Dazzle (raspberry-red flowers).

  • Their mature height is 4 feet tall, which makes them more of a shrub in the landscape.
  • Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Townhouse’ This crape myrtle cultivar is a tall one, growing to heights of 23-30 feet.
  • They have white flowers and are especially known for their beautiful deep brown and cinnamon-colored bark.

You may have admired these planted in the North Terrace Garden, the first space you come to when you exit the Visitors Center into the Garden. This article is meant to provide an alternative to “crape murder” and to help people see crape myrtles in a different way.

What happens if you don’t prune crepe myrtles?

Pruning Crape Myrtles At The Perfect Time – If you’re new to pruning shrubs and trees, it’s crucial to figure out which category your plants fall into; those that bloom on new wood, and those that bloom on old wood. Crape myrtles bloom on new wood, which means that they spring to life once temperatures warm up and develop blooms later in the summer as they grow longer branches.

  1. Many of your other garden plants may bloom on old wood and need to be pruned in the fall to get tidied up before blooming in early spring,
  2. You’ll want to hold off on pruning your crape myrtles until a few months afterward because all those extra branches act as a protective layer during cool, windy nights.
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At the beginning of spring, you can trim back the longer, ganglier branches and thin it to make room for new growth and maintain a more even shape. Leaving it alone will result in a pretty raggedy-looking tree, and it won’t grow as quickly either. The new growth will emerge on its own from the fresh cuts, and if you trim at just the right point, you’ll encourage way more blooms to appear. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland The effect of over-pruning on crape myrtles.

What is the best month to trim crepe myrtles?

Crape Myrtle: Pruning – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden February is the time of year you may notice stark “stubs” of crape myrtles in parking lots and other areas around town. Often crape myrtle is so harshly pruned only trunks are left, with the top half of the tree hacked off.

  1. The look is so prevalent that many believe this is the correct way to prune a crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia).
  2. Some might even think the trees need this type of harsh treatment.
  3. You may notice severely pruned crape myrtles in commercial landscapes.
  4. This is not a best practice! “Not so!” exclaim horticulturists and arborists.

In fact, there’s a movement to stop “crape murder” and share best practices. If the look isn’t appealing and doesn’t benefit the tree, why do people do it? “It’s faster and easier and, quite frankly, the crape myrtle can take it,” explains Horticulturist Dean Dietrich.

  1. But just because the resilient crape myrtle can take the abuse doesn’t mean it should have to.
  2. February is a good time to prune crape myrtles.
  3. It should be done before fresh growth appears in March.
  4. Its toughness makes crape myrtle a popular plant.
  5. They are fast-growing and highly adaptable.
  6. They come in many shapes and sizes and provide interest through the seasons.

The mottled barks of crape myrtles are attractive year-round, especially in the winter landscape, and the leaves offer fall color. Depending on the variety, in summer they offer frothy clouds of colorful blossoms ranging from white, pink, red, and purple.

  • The beautiful and interesting barks of crape myrtles are a standout in the winter landscape.
  • The horticulturists at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden have some suggestions to help you look at crape myrtles and pruning in a whole new way.
  • Step 1: Look at your tree It sounds so basic, but don’t rush this first step.

Dietrich explains, “Look at the limbs. What is your overall aesthetic? What do you want structurally? Do you want the branches to be overhanging to provide shade? Or are you looking for an upright form?” One of the reasons for the crape myrtles in the Sunken Garden is to provide shade for seating, so they are pruned according to that purpose.

Crape myrtles in the Sunken Garden. You can see those on the right have already been pruned. Step 2: Think ahead Which branches can you do without? How will the remaining branches grow? This future view is important because what you do now will influence the tree’s scaffolding. Deciding what to leave in and what to take out requires judgment calls.

“If you cut too many of the small branches or “suckers,” you won’t have as much to work with in the future,” says Dietrich. This is especially the case should you ever want to bring the tree down in height. Typically you can prune up to one-third of the canopy.

  1. Cut more than that and it may result in a stressed tree pushing out a lot of new growth.
  2. And if you don’t feel like pruning every year? You don’t have to.
  3. However, as Dietrich points out, “If you leave too many branches, it can be harder to retrain the tree when it is older.” Step 3: Making the Cut Safety is extremely important when pruning.

Make sure you have the proper equipment and follow safety protocols. It helps to have someone assisting you. The best tool is a hand-saw, however, you can also use hand pruners, pole pruners, and lopers, depending on the size of the branch. The first cut should be away from the tree trunk and on the underside of the branch.

Make the first cut underneath the branch at least several inches from the tree trunk. Cut about one-third of the way through the branch. Then start a second cut on top of the branch about an inch farther out than the first cut. Keep cutting until the branch breaks free. For the third cut, identify the branch collar. The branch collar is where the limb attaches to the tree. You want to cut cleanly across the outer edge of the branch collar (see the image.) You do not want to cut flush up against the tree.

Find the branch collar. The third cut should be on the outer edge of the branch collar. There should be a small stub left, which allows the bark to grow over and the tree to heal properly. There are always new varieties of crape myrtles coming out onto the market.

Be sure to know what you are getting before you purchase and think about how it will work in your landscape. Some varieties at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden include: Lagerstroemia ‘Lipan’ These line the outer edge of the Sunken Garden. They can grow 8- to 15- feet tall and have lavender-pink flowers. Lagerstroemia ‘Lipan’ blooming in the Sunken Garden.

Razzle Dazzle Series Developed by breeder Michael Dirr, the Razzle Dazzle series is known for their compact form and brilliant color; you can find them in the trade under the names: Ruby Dazzle (pink flowers with bronze-red foliage), Cherry Dazzle (cherry-red flowers), Snow Dazzle (white flowers), Dazzle Me Pink (pink flowers) and Raspberry Dazzle (raspberry-red flowers).

Their mature height is 4 feet tall, which makes them more of a shrub in the landscape. Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Townhouse’ This crape myrtle cultivar is a tall one, growing to heights of 23-30 feet. They have white flowers and are especially known for their beautiful deep brown and cinnamon-colored bark.

How to Prune a CREPE MYRTLE Tree | 5 Simple STEPS

You may have admired these planted in the North Terrace Garden, the first space you come to when you exit the Visitors Center into the Garden. This article is meant to provide an alternative to “crape murder” and to help people see crape myrtles in a different way.

Do you cut crepe myrtles above or below the knot?

By: Jackie Carroll When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland Have you noticed unsightly knots on your crepe myrtles ? Knots on crepe myrtle trees are usually the result of improper pruning. This article explains how to prevent knots and what to do about them when they appear. Cutting crepe myrtle knots doesn’t resolve the problem.

Is March too late to prune crepe myrtles?

When Should You Prune Crape Myrtles? – Crape myrtle trees are summer bloomers and only produce flowers on new growth. Once they break dormancy, this new growth will rapidly emerge. Therefore, it’s good to remove a few of the older branches to make way for the new growth.

  • Trimming crape myrtles in the late winter or early spring is a good idea in order to keep them neatly shaped.
  • Some gardeners trim off dead wood and cut branches from their crape myrtles late in the fall, before the first frost and after the last of the blooms have faded.
  • Only do this if you live in the mildest areas of your tree’s hardiness growing zones ! Generally, crape myrtles in the fall should be left to grow.
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A rule of green thumb: The ideal time to prune will be late winter, February or March; however, you can wait until April to prune your crape myrtle if you live in milder growing zones. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland

How long do crepe myrtles live?

Crepe Myrtle Trees’ Lifespan: How Long Do They Live and What Determines Their Longevity? – Crepe myrtles are beautiful trees that can add a touch of elegance to any landscape. But how long do crepe myrtles live? What determines their longevity? What is their life cycle? And when is the best time to plant them? TreeNewal’s ISA Certified Arborists provide the answers to these questions and more! How Long Does a Crepe Myrtle Live? Crepe myrtles have a lifespan of around 25 years.

However, some crepe myrtles have been known to live for 100 years or more! This tree does best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought-tolerant and can withstand extreme heat. The crepe myrtle is a relatively low-maintenance tree, which may contribute to its long lifespan. Did You Know: The oldest known crepe myrtle is found in Roncade, Italy, at 132 years old.

The Crepe Myrtle Life Cycle Stages A crepe myrtle goes through four stages in its life cycle: seed, sapling, mature tree, and senescent tree. The seed stage is when the crepe myrtle grows from a seed to a sapling. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the conditions in which the crepe myrtle is growing.

  1. The sapling stage is when the crepe myrtle grows from a sapling to a mature tree.
  2. This stage can also last several years, depending on the conditions in which the crepe myrtle is growing.
  3. Once the crepe myrtle reaches maturity, it will enter the senescent stage, during which the tree will slowly begin to die.

The crepe myrtle’s lifespan will depend on how long it takes for the tree to reach the senescent stage. From Establishment to Decline The crepe myrtle life cycle begins with planting. The best time to plant crepe myrtles is in the spring or fall. This gives the trees a chance to establish themselves before the sizzling summer months arrive.

  1. Once crepe myrtles are established, they need minimal care.
  2. However, they should be fertilized early spring and late fall to promote growth.
  3. Water crepe myrtles regularly during the first growing season to help them establish a strong root system,
  4. After the crepe myrtle is established, it will begin to bloom.

Crepe myrtles typically begin to bloom in late spring or early summer. The blooms last until late summer or fall and come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, red, and purple. Once the blooms fade, crepe myrtles produce small, round fruits that are loved by birds.

  1. As crepe myrtles age, they will begin to lose their lower leaves.
  2. This is normal and does not mean the tree is dying.
  3. Crepe myrtles should be pruned in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or diseased branches.
  4. At the end of its life, a crepe myrtle will have a very thin canopy with only a few leaves.

What Can Shorten the Life of a Crepe Myrtle? There are a few things that can shorten the life of a crepe myrtle, including:

Improper Care: Crepe myrtles need very little care, but they must be watered regularly during their first growing season. They should also be fertilized in early spring and late fall. Pests and Diseases: Crepe myrtles are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including powdery mildew, aphids, scale insects, and borers. These can be controlled with proper care and treatment from a certified arborist. Winter Damage: Crepe myrtles are not tolerant of cold weather and can be damaged by frost or freezing temperatures. They should be planted in an area that is protected from the wind and has good drainage.

What Can Increase the Life of a Crepe Myrtle? There are a few things that can help crepe myrtles live longer, healthier lives:

Regular Pruning: Pruning crepe myrtles helps to remove any dead or diseased branches. This allows the tree to focus its energy on healthy growth. Proper Fertilization: Fertilizing crepe myrtles in early spring and late fall helps them to grow strong and healthy. Adequate Water: Watering crepe myrtles regularly during their first growing season helps them to establish a deep, strong root system.

TreeNewal’s Certified Arborists Can Help! If you have crepe myrtles on your property, TreeNewal’s Certified Arborists can help you care for them and ensure they have a long, healthy life. We offer a variety of crepe myrtle services, including planting, fertilization, watering, and pruning.

Contact us today to learn more! If you need advice or assistance keeping your crepe myrtles in their best shape, get in touch with the ISA Certified Arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice. To learn more about Crepe Myrtle Trees’ Lifespan: How Long Do They Live and What Determines Their Longevity?, call our Argyle and Southlake -based teams at (817) 592-6846 or send us a message,

We’re a little different than the average tree services company. Learn more about TreeNewal’s ISA Certified Arborists! Our Dallas/Fort Worth-based tree doctors can explain how sustainable tree care services add more value to your bottom line. Healthy trees, healthy lives.

What month do crepe myrtles stop blooming?

News Release Distributed 06/14/12 By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings What’s the most popular summer-blooming tree in Louisiana? Crape myrtles. Pretty easy question. Louisianians plant many crape myrtles in their landscapes every year.

  • The lovely, long-lasting blooms make them attractive.
  • Most years, crape myrtles start blooming between mid-May and early June.
  • Flowering continues for 90-120 days depending on the variety.
  • You may sometimes see crape myrtles not blooming well.
  • Why?” you might ask.
  • Here are some factors to consider: – New growth.

How much new growth did your crape myrtles have this spring? Crape myrtles need to have new growth each spring in order to produce summer flowers. These flowers come on current-season growth, so late winter/early spring fertilization can aid crape myrtle flowering in the summer.

  1. It is not too late to fertilize this year if you haven’t yet. – Shade.
  2. Crape myrtles require eight hours of direct sun daily to bloom well.
  3. Crape myrtles planted in areas that receive less than six hours of direct sun do not get enough sunlight for adequate bloom development.
  4. Variety.
  5. Some varieties don’t flower as vigorously as others.

Hybrid crape myrtles usually flower first. Natchez, Tuscarora, Basham’s Party Pink and Muskogee are the easiest-flowering varieties. The semi-dwarf varieties such as Tonto, Acoma and Sioux follow a week or two later. – Insects. Heavy infestations of aphids decrease flowering.

This is the most common insect problem on crape myrtles. Ever feel like you’re being “rained” on under the canopy of a crape myrtle? That “rain” is actually bodily fluid being excreted from aphids. White flies and other insect also can cause problems for crape myrtles. – Improper pruning. Drastic pruning or pruning after new spring growth can delay summer flowering.

Drastic pruning, in fact, may promote excessive growth and less flowering. Sometimes the “crape murder” method of pruning can initiate too much growth at the expense of flowering. – Too much fertilizer. Excessive fertilization, especially high amounts of nitrogen, in conjunction with other factors, primarily improper pruning, can eliminate or delay flowering.

  • Leaf spot.
  • Foliar diseases decrease plant vigor and flowering, especially in the absence of new growth in spring.
  • The main cause of leaf spot in crape myrtles is the fungus Cercospora, and it’s bad this year.
  • Long term, this disease is not detrimental to the plant.
  • Using fungicides for control has not been very effective because they would have to be applied repeatedly throughout the growing season, and getting adequate coverage on larger trees is difficult.
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– Wet soil. Crape myrtles need well-drained areas to grow well. Lichens growing on bark is common on crape myrtles growing in shady areas accompanied by poorly drained soils and low levels of native soil fertility. So, that’s the list. Consider these reasons if your crape myrtles are not performing to their potential.

  1. Hopefully, your crape myrtles will bloom and bloom some more for you this summer.
  2. Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action.
  3. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium.

For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn, Rick Bogren

Why do people cut the tops off of crepe myrtles?

Quick Tip: Why is everyone cutting their Crape Myrtles? Should I? Many of our clients have witnessed their neighbors and other landscape companies out pruning Crape Myrtles the past couple months and wondered if we had forgotten about them. Some have even witnessed others reducing majestic Crape Myrtles to ugly stumps, known to some as committing “Crape Murder.” When a crape myrtle is pruned back like this, it has 2 effects:

  1. Reduces the number of blooms that will be produced during summer.
  2. New branches will grow far too long and therefore not be able to support the weight of heavy blooms – particularly when wet. These long branches weep over and often break off during heavy rains.

When a crape myrtle is pruned properly, it has 2 positive affects: When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland

  1. It will produce twice the number of branches and therefore twice the number blooms as it did during the previous year.
  2. The new branches will be strong enough to support blooms.

We thought it would be helpful for our readers to have some tips on when and how to prune Crape Myrtles in to promote the healthiest tree:

  • Prune late in winter, which February is ideal.
  • Remove suckers from the base, crubbing and crossing branches, and any growth going inward toward the center of the plant.
  • As the tree grows taller, gradually remove all side branches from the main trunks up to a height of 5 feet or so.
  • Cut back to another branch, to just above an outward-facing bud on a branch, or to the branch collar (a swollen area where the branch joins the trunk). Never leave lone or clustered stubs.
  • Try to remove unwanted branches before they get thicker than a pencil.
  • It’s okay, but unnecessary, to cut off old seedheads.

The objectives of pruning a crepe myrtle are to maintain its natural form, produce strong branches that hold blooms upright, and open up its center to reveal the multi-toned bark that forms on their trunk. Cutting it back to thick stubs each year makes these goals impossible. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland Restoring a Butchered Plant If you’ve beheaded a big crape myrtle to within a few feet of the ground already, there’s only one solution. Unfortunately you must cut the tree completely to the ground, and don’t be surprised when it grows back VERY quickly.

  • The next winter, select three to five well-spaced trunks, and cut off any others at ground level.
  • Follow the instructions from “The Right Way To Prune” above, and you’ll have an attractive tree within five years.
  • If you’d like help with in the future, call us at (352) 378-5296 or email our office at,

We would love to help you out! : Quick Tip: Why is everyone cutting their Crape Myrtles? Should I?

Can I prune crepe myrtle in October?

As crape myrtles pass their prime bloom season and begin to look a little “shaggy”, many people want to tidy them up to look neater through fall and into winter. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland Prune off spent flowers on crape myrtle like this Removing the spent flower clusters can make the tree look nicer (though on a large tree this may be impractical), but doing so is entirely for aesthetic purposes. You may be tempted to continue your cleanup and get some pruning done while you’re at it.

Be careful you don’t go too far! At this point in late summer/fall it’s also OK to remove broken branches, or branches that have sagged and not sprung back due to the weight of flowers and rain. (The “pruning” practice sometimes referred to as crape murder can cause long, thin branches that are more likely to sag.

Don’t do it!) These should be removed all the way back to the branch they originate from. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland To remove broken or sagging branches, make the cuts here at the trunk (or next major branch) What you do not want to do is cut branches back partway, or remove too much overall at this time. This can encourage a spurt of new growth too late in the season to become mature enough to survive freezing temperatures. When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland Do NOT cut here! The proper time to prune crape myrtle is late winter (January-February). Since crape myrtles form their flowers on new growth, there is no danger of removing already-formed buds. For instructions on how to correctly prune a crape myrtle—and how to repair “crape murder”— follow this link: Pruning 101 – Easy crape myrtle pruning, When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland And never, ever cut here! New Garden Landscaping & Nursery specializes in the correct pruning of landscape shrubs & small trees. If your landscape needs to be tamed, contact us ! When To Prune Crepe Myrtle In Maryland Here are the common ways your landscape is telling you it needs help.

What happens if you top a crepe myrtle?

Don’t Top Your Crape Myrtles! –

Topping a crape myrtle destroys the natural balance and beauty of the tree. Improperly trimmed multi-trunk crape myrtles have weakend immune responses and cannot fight off disease and insects as well. As the topping continues, the crape myrtles can respond by growing more trunks, worsening the problem.

Topped crape myrtles have weak branch connections and are prone to breaking.

What happens if you cut a crepe myrtle to the ground?

Tip – Crepe myrtles will grow back when cut, although it isn’t necessary to prune them all the way down to the ground.