Houzz Logo Print

At what point is Crape Myrtle Pruning, Crape Murder?

17 years ago

I have a 10 to 15 year old Crape Myrtle that I want to prune. It has 4-5 strong legs that I'm ok with. I know about removing ground shoot and lateral branches that are on the bottom 1/3 o 1/2 of the plant to make it more tree like. I know about removing crossing or damaged/diseased branches, and getting rid of branches that grow into the center of the structure to allow for air and light penetration. The place where I am confused is what to do with the ends of branches. Here's why I want to prune them:

1. The plant is close to my house and the tops of the branches are beginning to lean on a 1-story section's roof and gutter.

2. The tree's original owners pruned branches that most would consider too thick (1-2") It's nothing near as bad as the topped trees I've seen, but the branches that grow out right below those pruning are sometimes numerous (4-5 shoots) and are now very long. As a result, they droop when the plant blooms, making the whole plant look burdened and wilted.

No, I will not dig it up and plant a smaller variety. No time, no desire. I just wnat to do the best that I can with what I have for now.

So the main question are:

1. Where there are 4 or 5 brnaches growing out right below a 1-2" branch that was pruned, can I cut a few of those out.

2. Is it okay, as I have read, to just cut back the ends of all the branches until they are the thickness of a pencil (1/4 to 1/2") or is this another form of Crape Murder?

3. If I do cut the ends of branches off, will more shoots come out of a pencil thin branch, right below those prunes at different angles, thus making the branch all the more heavy to begin with? If so, should I just cut it all back down to the major prunes (1"-2") that the previous owners did?

Thanks in advance. I really want to understand this plant and not commit a felony on it!

Comments (3)