Pruning Crape Myrtle Trees

Have a 20' tall Crape Myrtle tree, not sure what kind, the leaves are as big as a man's hand, and a lot of leaves to sweep up in late winter early spring each year. Located in south Florida, zone 10.
Two of the branches were split from hurricane Frances and need to be trimmed back. A friend told me it needs to be pruned all the way back to the trunk, I thought this is only true for the shrub variety and not the tree variety. Any idea how much I should prune this one?
Thanks,
O
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I don't believe crape myrtle is considered a tree. It is a perennial shrub, and of course some can be grown as a tree. My shrub can go as high as 20 feet, but I cut it back almost to the ground every 3 years of so, and keeps coming back strong. Right now, i took some cuttings this past spring and they are blooming for me in 14 to 15 inch baskets, and they are only 2 feet high, because I'm containing them. I live in NYC and these won't last long outside during the winter, so i guess i have to bring them indoors and hope to carry them over till next spring.
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I think what I have is a Crape Myrtle Nanchez. The nusery where I bought them from had a few that are 50' tall and they are definitely of the tree variety. The one I have is about 20' tall and the main trunk is about 12 inches in diameter.
I don't think I want to cut them back to the ground. I did a search and some recommend cutting them back and some said this is "crape murder". Opinions seem to vary. I am very confused now.
O

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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 23:23:21 -0400, "orangetrader"

"Crape murder," as discussed here within the past few weeks refers to topping or pollarding, not regular pruning for shape, health, or damage removal.
While the Natchez variety (white blooms?) is often referred to as a tree because of its possible mature height, it's not distinct from other crape myrtles which can be shrubs or trees, depending on climate and/or pruning.
I am puzzled by your leaf description. Most crape myrtle leaves are small -- 1" to 3" long. Are you sure this is a crape myrtle? I do seem to recall a long-ago post about a Florida tree that was famously messy for dropping leaves. Perhaps some variety unique to the area?
At any rate, you can probably find specific information by searching on
"crape myrtle" pruning
My experience is with mid-Atlantic trees/bushes which have been extremely tolerant of pruning from lopping off dangling branch ends to sawing a 3" limb to keep a cat from climbing on the porch roof.
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Hi,
    I live in Zone 7 and have 12 "Natchez" crape myrtles. After hurricane Isabel last year I decided to seriously cut them back because during the hurricane the branches hit my windows and ripped some of the screens. I had read several articles indicating that pruning them was your first step to Hell :-) so I had not pruned them since 1997 when I planted them. Before I cut them they were about 25 feet tall and I remove about 10 feet off each of them in Jan/Feb. They looked really sad when the first spring growth appeared, but they quickly grew so that no one would notice the "haircut". The blooms this year have been more profuse than any year since I planted them so I am inclined to believe the pruning did no lasting damage and probably encouraged the heavy bloom.
    BTW, A couple of the trees are shading by my house and my neighbors house and their leaves do get bigger in an attempt to reach more light. They are about the size of an adult's hand, whereas the leaves in full sun tend to be smaller.
    Happy pruning.
Mark

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