Crepe Myrtle question

I have three crepe myrtles that were planted last year. They are now about 4.5 feet tall and had developed their first blooms at the end of last summer. However, it was so hot and dry here last year that the blooms basically fried on the branches before they could fully open. Should I prune these trees back to encourage blooming this year? If so, how far down? Thanks for any info.
Rhonda Richmond, VA USDA Zone 7
******** Basic human psychology is one of my subroutines.
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wrote:

Crepe myrtle is a bush, very tolerant of pruning, but pruning is done to shape as well as stimulate blooms. I would prune up (Take out lower limbs.) until the upright growth produces branches tall enough to walk under and strong enough to tolerate top pruning.
Actually I don't top prune mine at all, but simply shape them to look like trees. You can do a second pruning after the first blooming begins to fade and get a second bloom, but I'm happy with one blooming and a tree shape that looks like a tree all year instead of pruned stubs part of the year. Plan for what you want and prune accordingly.
Regards,
Hal
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Maybe I misstated my question. They don't actually need pruning for shape or height. What I really need to know is if I should clip off the blooms that died before opening last year to enable the bushes to bloom this year. Or will they take care of that themselves?
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Natty Dread wrote:

Crape myrtle does not require heavy pruning to promote bloom. Flowers are produced on new growth. It will produce flowers without any pruning, although it will produce larger flowers and bloom more profusely if at least lightly pruned. Pruning in late winter or early spring will stimulate vigorous new growth in the spring. Encourage a second bloom in summer by pruning flowers immediately after they fade.
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That's what I needed to know. Thank you!
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Natty Dread wrote:

Not necessary. It will flower on new growth. Instead of pruning, you might give it some blooming plant fertilizer, but only if there is sufficient moisture. Don't fertilize during very dry periods.
If your specimens are getting tall, it's likely they are tree form cultivars. Some crapes are bushes; some form beautiful small trees. On the tree types, the ONLY pruning I do is removing entire crossing or crowded branches as the plant grows to encourage a nice vase shape. That, and removing small lower limbs from the larger branches as needed to shape it up into an attractive tree. Do NOT top as it can ruin the lovely shape these trees take on.
A good book on pruning can help, and the difference between a properly trained crape and one left to its own devices (or even worse, topped) is night and day. Properly pruned, they are very attractive year round and free of wounds from rubbing branches. The topped ones are rather unsightly in winter, as the topping cuts are not hidden by the leaves.
I hope that helps.
Mike On the North Carolina coast - Zone 8a (Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
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