How to not Butcher your Crape Myrtle

how not to butcher crape myrtle

how not to butcher crape myrtleJohnson City TN

Crape myrtle trees are common in the south, and east Tennessee is no exception. Once the calendar turns to June, crape myrtle trees thrive. These trees are known for their handsome trunks with blooms that are a spectacular spectrum of colors, including pink, white, and hot lavender. When the growing season subsides, you’ll need to consider pruning your trees—including any crape myrtles on your property. Keep reading as your tree pruning professionals in Kingsport at Promier Tree explain how to prune your crape myrtle without butchering it.

What’s the best time of year to prune crape myrtles?

You will want to prune your crape myrtles during the late winter—February or even early March. Even if it’s not convenient to prune at that time, the important thing is to make sure pruning is complete before your crepe myrtles begin new growth for the spring. As soon as this new growth begins, those flowers that blossom in the summer will form buds next spring.

Poor pruning of crape myrtles is common

So common, in fact, that it is referred to in the arborist world as “crape murder.” What would be considered a regular amount of pruning for most other varieties of trees constitutes a butchering job for crape myrtles. The truth is that crape myrtles only need occasional pruning.

Topping is, unfortunately, a rather common method of pruning crape myrtles. We have written previously about the dangers of tree topping in Johnson City. It can devastate a crape myrtle. Any new growth at the cut sites lacks the proper structural strength and is more vulnerable to fungus diseases, especially powdery mildew. If poor pruning techniques are performed on the same tree, it develops large, swollen knobs at the cut points.

Only one heavy pruning of crape myrtle can do lasting damage. This is why it’s called “crape murder,” as the tree’s graceful and natural shape is marred for the rest of its life.

When is the right time to prune a crape myrtle?

Unless you see an immediate need for pruning, it’s best to leave alone your crape myrtle for now. You should trust these decisions to the consultation of a tree care professional, such as the arborists on staff at Promier Tree. Our arborists are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and have experience and knowledge about all the common tree species in Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, and the surrounding areas in Tennessee.

There are only a few valid reasons that you should prune your crape myrtle.

These include:

  • To eliminate branches that cross and rub, as rubbing branches can create open wounds on a crape myrtle
  • To raise the canopy by eliminating branches that rest too low on the trunk
  • To remove weak and thin branches from the interior of the tree, creating a cleaner look

Pruning crape myrtles in Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City

At Promier Tree, we want to see all varieties of trees on your property flourish. Don’t trust your pruning needs to an inexperienced, untrained, or fly-by-night company. Resist the trend to have your crape myrtle topped because others are doing it. Instead, trust all your tree care needs to the experienced arborists at Promier Tree. Schedule an on-site evaluation and estimate with one of our tree experts by calling (423) 765-2626.