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How to Prune Crepe Myrtles

Pruning crepe myrtles prevents the tree from growing very lanky, so trimming back one-third of the branches will encourage new lush growth. Prune a tree in the shape of a bowl to expose the inner branches to the sun with instructions from a sustainable gardener in this free video on gardening.


Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment we're going to talk about how to prune crepe myrtle. Crepe myrtles are really a beautiful tree, and they're very easy to grow as long as you give 'em a sunny spot. They like coastal conditions the best, but they'll grow almost anywhere they get enough sun and a lot of good drainage. But they will grow very lanky if they're not pruned, so by just taking a little bit of time and pruning them each year, you'll find that they'll do much better. So the trick with pruning them is to never prune 'em back more than one third per year. You never want to cut 'em back more than one third per year, because that way then they will grow very lush, and the inside branches will get more sun. And the best time to prune them is in the fall or the winter, when they're the most dormant, and then that way the next year you'll get lots of lush, new growth. So when you're pruning any kind of fruit tree, the goal is to cut out a lot of the random branches towards the top of the tree, 'cause those are usually the more fruity branches, that's going to produce the more fruit. And you want to thin it out about one third the size each year. And that way, it won't just get tall and lanky, and it'll fill up, and you'll get a lot more fruit quicker. And so, just by cutting out, see, the lighter colored branches, you can get a lot more fruit. And you just trim them out and even it out. So there's more sun that gets into the middle branches, and the tree will do much better. If you have a fruit tree that's been established, and it's really tall and not producing fruit, and you have not pruned it very much, then you can actually cut out some of the top branches, and what your making in called a 'vase cut'. By doing that you're forcing most of the growth back down to the bottom part of the tree, and you'll get a lot more fruit for the next year. So when you're pruning any type of a tree, you want to be really careful to cut it at the right angle. For example, if it's a large branch, you want to cut first at one side, and then the other side, and then you're cutting that whole, heavy branch off. 'Cause if you just cut from one angle, it might actually hurt some of the bark and get into the main trunk. And you never want to hurt the main trunk, because you will lose a tree if it gets too damaged. And, you don't want to cut it too far out, either, where the C, D cut is, because what happens is then it gets too much moisture and it'll rot, and there's too much dead material. You want to cut it right at a little bit of an angle, leaving one to two inches right at where the tree is reading with the main trunk. Same thing, you never want to cut right up to the trunk line and make a solid cut, because what happens is the tree gets very damaged, and sometimes it will eventually kill the tree because it doesn't have bark to protect the main trunk, and that is what's needed. So the best time to prune your myrtle tree is anytime that it's dormant. So in the fall or the winter is the best time. And that way, by just pruning the dead branches out and thinning it out, it will grow very lush and you get lots of new growth the next year.