Question on Crepe Myrtles

boomothergoose(z7 TN)December 12, 2005

I have two crepe myrtle's in my back yard and wondered if anyone can tell me how you get that clean undercut look. I undercut mine but get shoots all the time.

Also, I have my eye on a subdivision entrance that I think is just beautiful. I noticed a few weeks ago they were working on it and they topped four of the crepe mytrle's. I don't know how hold they are, but they are about 10 or 15 feet high and they have REALLY cut them down to almost 6 feet. Is this normal??

Thanks for the help!

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It's called "crepe murder" by most of us. But some do prune heavily and think it's "normal" practice.

The shoots are a part of life with crepe myrtles, but well worth the small effort it takes a couple of times during the mid-late summer to keep them trimmed. The rule of thumb I have always followed is to train the small c.m.'s to an odd number of main branches (usually 3 or 5) that will become your main branches. Then keep the lower few feet clear of any other growth to show off the bark. You can trim any inner branches that start to rub on another main branch or look to cause problems, but they shouldn't be totally cut back unless diseased & you are starting over from the ground up. Mature height on a young, newly planted c.m. will be reached in a few years, but some varieties do get even larger than 10-15 feet.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 3:42PM
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boomothergoose(z7 TN)


Thanks for the info! I will just consider it a fact of life and keep trimming the shoots!
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 3:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, some cultivars easily reach 25 feet and more. The most rewarding method of growing and enjoying your crape myrtles is to allow them to get as tall as they want (hopefully they have been planted in a location where this is possible). Remove crossing and inward growing branches in order to expose the natural skeleton of the tree, which can provide major aesthetic value during the winter! Stand back and admire your handiwork while you're pruning. Soon, the tree's natural infrastructure will become apparent to you. You goal will be to remove a few long branches all the way back to the trunk or to a major outward growing branch.

Those landscapers have ruined the appearance of those crape myrtles. When the aggressive new shoots emerge in the spring, that will be all the more obvious. Once a tree has been topped like that, it can never be restored to its original beauty.

Some crape myrtles cultivars and individual specimens tend to sucker at the bottom more than others. Simply keep those suckers pruned off as soon as they appear.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crape myrtle pruning how-to

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 11:19AM
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Crape Myrtle Seeds fall off the trees and grow pretty easily.
You may actually be pruning back separate plants that have sprouted up from seed. You may want to try to dig some of the shoots up and plant them someplace different..That is if you want more Crape Myrtles in your yard..I am working on my young ones too with the desire for them to look like the ones I see in beautifully landscaped areas around the City. Mine are little about 4 ft tall right now...I do have on white one that is about 6ft tall..I trimmed it back cutting every branch that was less then 2 inches thick..Leaving 5 shoots..Then I clipped off all the little branches from those shoots about 3ft up the plant..I did not prune the top at all...I want the plant to get tall..Mine are the kind that get 10-15 ft tall.

I harvested some of the seeds and, have baby Crape Myrtles growing in my makeshift indoor nursery..I turned my second bathroom into a plant nursery, by adding a plant light and some extra heat and humidity...

I have noticed that the Crape Myrtles I am watching (on someone elses landscaped area) are pruned back in fall with all the seed pods being removed..I never cut off the seed pods I just leave them untrimmed til spring..Then I just prune off the remaining dried up seed pods..

Good Luck...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 11:46AM
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I just planted two crepe myrtles that are about 3-4" tall and are very bushy (and not bush crepe myrtles), when should I start to train them -now or wait until winter?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:31AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Just wait until January or so when all leaves are gone and cold enough that they won't resprout until spring. The branch structure is easier to see too with no leaves.
Theoretically late February is the traditional pruning month because the sap is starting to rise before the weather warms up but I really don't think it matters that much with the weather so crazy these days.
I do whatever I want to my crepes whenever I feel like it.

I often cut the smaller ones back in August to get a second bloom flush.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 3:05PM
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