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.
USDA Zone 7
Basic human psychology is one of my subroutines.
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
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?
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.
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.
On the North Carolina coast - Zone 8a
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