The one Question we are asked more than any other question is "How do you Prune Crape Myrtles"?
We will try and answer that question using text and photos but remember, when all is said and done, is up to you as the owner of the crape myrtle tree, to prune it how you prefer.
1st thing you must know about Crape Myrtles is that they are different from most
other trees and many other shrubs in that they bloom on what's called "New
Wood or New Growth"(most tree's flowers come from the growth they made the
1st- The Miniature Group of Crape Myrtles
Our Patented True Miniatures grow anywhere from 12" to about 5-6'. Over 20 years ago we decided that because crape myrtles flower on "new wood" we would breed the crape myrtles to have a lot of branches or "new wood". Therefore we kept making genetic crosses to get as many branches as possible ie, the more branches the more flowers. Look at the photos of our Patented Mini's you find on this web site. The plants are so "self-branching" they literally cover themselves in flowers for up to 6 months.
The point being that You don't ever have to Prune the Miniatures.
Suckers are shoots(some people call them watersprouts) that form at the very base of the plant near where the trunk meets the soil. You can also get suckers if the roots of the plants are too the the surface of the soil and the roots start sprouting.
We have tried to breed suckers out of Our Patented Miniatures because its not very attractive to have a beautiful, weeping, 24" miniature hybrid with a 6' sucker growing out of it.
Suckers are usually seen growing from the base of the Tall and Medium height trees. They are very soft and you can often break them off with your fingernail. They can also be removed with your lawn mower or weed eater but try not to damage the stem of the tree.
If you forget to remove the suckers your crape myrtle tree will begin looking like a crape myrtle bush.
Now we are getting into the real controversy when pruning crape myrtles.
Remember we told you that crape myrtles bloom on "new growth"?
Many people including some professional landscapers just arbitrarily pick a height(for example, 6') that they want their tree to be and every spring they get up there with a hedge trimmer or chain saw or whatever and "whack off" everything above 6'.
The plant then makes this flush of new growth and covers itself with flowers. Many people prefer this way and think its the way a crape myrtle should be pruned. If you have a group of plants in a line along a driveway this method makes the plants very uniform in height.
While there is nothing wrong with method #3 its going out of style in favor of "natural pruning".
In natural pruning of crape myrtles you leave about 4-8 of the strongest branches and remove or prune the weaker spindly branches.
When you have removed all the inside weak branches and step backand look at the tree it almost looks like a tall bonsai tree.
This can best be illustrated with photos: