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Pruning of Crape Myrtles – Just Say No

Like the arrival of the purple martins, the wanton pruning of crape myrtles also occurs annually. It’s known by many names: heading back, topping, pollarding, hedging, etc. Still, by any name it is a crime against nature.

Most disheartening is that this type of pruning is totally unnecessary. And, contrary to the popular belief that it will increase flowers, topping actually weakens the tree, shortens its life and increases its susceptibility to pests.

So what is the correct way to prune a crepemyrtle? Well, like most trees a crape myrtle does not require any pruning. But if you absolutely must, the correct way to prune any tree is to always cut back to another branch or a bud. This retains the natural shape and the terminal buds, which determine the amount and direction of twig growth.

It’s a simple process really. But if you’re a visual learner, check out our how-to video on pruning. Your crape myrtle will thank you.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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