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How to Prune Your Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles can be one of the most beautiful plants growing in your landscape when flowering. They absolutely thrive with the heat and humidity we have in Cumming, GA. Crape Myrtles do require some maintenance during the winter months to keep them looking their best. No matter what the goal is for your Crape Myrtle, it's important to make sure that your prune your Crape Myrtles properly, to avoid committing "Crape Murder".

Drive around anywhere in the south during the winter and you will see hundreds of Crape Myrtles hacked in half. Crape Murder is such a prevalent practice in Cumming, Ga, that you would actually think it's the correct way to do it. We do our best to educate our clients and employees on the correct way to prune Crape Myrtles.

Crape Murder is bad for several reasons:

1. Bad pruning turns beautiful trees into ugly stumps.

2. It prevents the tree from developing its pretty, mottled bark on the trunk as the tree matures.

3. New growth from incorrect pruning often results in weak branches that cannot hold the weight of the flowers and you may see them bend down to the ground.

4. The trees will begin to look deformed.

Proper pruning Crape Myrtles helps to promote more blooms during the summer. You can prune your Crape Myrtles as soon as November and as late as March. I believe January to February is the best time to prune in my experience.

Tools needed:

1. Hand pruners for branches less than 0.5 inch diameter.

2. Loppers for branches between 0.5 and 1.5 inches in diameter.

3. Hand saw for branches larger than 1.5 inches.

4. Step ladder if the tree is too tall to prune standing on the ground. Be safe and have a spotter!

Trim branches in the following order:

1. Remove suckers coming up from the base of the Crape Myrtle.

2. Trim off all side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet.

3. Remove all higher branches growing inward towards the center of the tree.

4. Remove all crossing, rubbing, and dead branches.

5. Remove any branches growing at awkward angles that detract from the tree's appearance.

6. Optional - You may also remove the seed pods left from the previous season's spent flowers. Always prune at least 8" to 12" above where you pruned last year.

By following these instructions, you'll be left with a beautifully shaped Crape Myrtle! Happy pruning!

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