It’s time to give your crape myrtle a much-needed pruning! Follow these simple steps and your crape myrtle will be looking as good as new in no time.
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Why prune a crape myrtle?
Pruning a crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is essential for several reasons. First, it helps the tree maintain a strong central leader. Secondly, it encourages the growth of strong lateral branches to form a well-rounded canopy. Finally, pruning removes crossing and rubbing branches, as well as diseased or damaged wood.
Pruning also helps to control the size of a crape myrtle. By removing the tips of branches, you can limit the amount of growth in any given season. This is especially useful if you want to keep your crape myrtle within a certain height or width range.
When to prune a crape myrtle?
Most pruning of Crape Myrtles is done to shape the plant, remove dead or damaged wood, or thin out dense growth. But sometimes, judicious pruning is done to promote flowering.
Crape myrtles bloom on new wood, so if you want lots of flowers, you need to encourage the plant to produce new growth. The best time to do this is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. You can also do it in late summer or early fall, after the plant has finished blooming but before frost damage could occur.
How to prune a crape myrtle?
To ensure your crape myrtle grows as vigorously and looks as attractive as possible, it is important to prune it regularly. The best time to prune your crape myrtle is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.
There are two main methods of pruning crape myrtles: topping and thinning. Topping is the practice of cutting back the main branches of the tree to create a “stub” effect. This method is often used to control the size of the tree or to encourage branching. However, topping can damage the tree and make it more susceptible to disease and insect infestation.
Thinning is a much gentler method of pruning that involves removing entire branches at their point of origin on the trunk. This method opens up the canopy of the tree to allow more light and air circulation, which helps discourage disease and keeps the leaves from matting together. Thinning also promotes vigorous new growth and can be used to rejuvenate an older tree that has become overgrown.
To thin your crape myrtle, start by removing any dead or broken branches. Then, identify any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other and remove one of them so that they no longer touch. Finally, remove any branches that are growing in towards the center of the tree (called “suckers”) or that are pointing straight up into the air (these are called “water sprouts”). When you have finished thinning, your crape myrtle should have a well-defined canopy with evenly spaced branches.
Which tools to use when pruning a crape myrtle?
Depending on the size of the crape myrtle, you will need different tools. For small crape myrtles, you can use pruning shears. For larger crape myrtles, you will need a pruning saw.
Pruning shears are the best tool for smaller jobs like shaping and trimming. They are specifically designed to cut through live plant tissue without damaging the plant.
Pruning saws are best for larger jobs like removing large branches. They have sharp teeth that allow them to quickly and easily cut through larger branches.