Pruning
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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.

The 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 previous year).
Therefore, anything that you can do to make the crape myrtle  grow once it leafs out in the spring will result in more flowers this coming year. Crape Myrtles thrive on water and fertilizer and  if you fertilize once a week or every 2 weeks you will have more flowers for a longer time than you know what to do with.

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.

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Patented Miniature Varieties 'Pink Blush', 'Lafayette', and 'Worlds Fair' cover themselves in buds and flowers

 

 

2nd- Suckers

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.

 

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Somebody needs to clip off those 6-8 suckers you see growing down at the base of this crape myrtle tree

 

 

 

 

 

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These 2 crape myrtle trees are loaded with suckers that should be removed. Shame!

                                       

3rd- "Whacking"

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.

 

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We are looking for a good photo illustrating a crape myrtle that was "wacked".
In the meantime here is a photo of our company treasurer

 

 

 

4th-Trimming

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:

 

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Although this tree is over 10 years old notice how only the main stems are left and all the soft suckers, and weak inside stems have been removed

 

 

 

 

 

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Notice how the arborist left the 4 or 5 strongest stems? She may have even wacked a little bit off the tops here to give them uniformity. Looks very nice

 

 

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Natural pruning well done

 

 

 

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