Why You Shouldn’t Hard Prune Crape Myrtles

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A properly placed Crape Myrtle is a low maintenance plant needing little or no pruning. Problems with overgrown, misshapen, or misplaced Crape Myrtles can be greatly reduced with proper selection of Crape Myrtle cultivars, proper plant selection at the nursery, and proper plant placement in the landscape.

Crape Myrtle pruning started because there were only a few cultivars available, none of which were “dwarf” or smaller varieties. the only way to keep a Crape Myrtle to a desired height was by hard pruning “topping” on a regular basis. Topping leaves large branch and stem stubs that are not only unsightly, they can also weaken the plant. This practice, known as “Crape Murder” is no longer recommended.

Negative effects of hard pruning:

  1. Delays flowering in the Spring and can shorten the season of bloom.
  2. Stimulates sprouting from the roots of the base of the main stem which takes nutrients away from the tree.
  3. Removes large amounts of starches and other food reserves which weaken the plant.
  4. Dramatically reduces the size of the plant canopy, decreasing its ability to perform photosynthesis.
  5. Increase the risk of wood decay and insect infestations.

Generally, Crape Myrtle pruning of any kind should be avoided unless it improves the plant structure or removes dead or damaged branches and twigs. If pruning is necessary, tip pruning “tipping” is acceptable. Tipping removes small-diameter branches (typically one-year-old) on the outer edge of the plant canopy where the spent flowers and seed capsules are. However, tipping is very time-consuming and impractical on larger Crape Myrtles and has no real benefit to the plant.

 

Call Grass Roots Lawn & Landscape, Inc. (850)897-3073 Niceville  (850)832-4212 Panama City Beach

 

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