Sharon F. recently read my article on HubPages, entitled “Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles” and e-mailed me about her myrtle. Here’s Sharon’s question: “My Crepe Myrtle is getting too large (both tall and wide) for the space where it was planted. How would you approach shaping this lovely tree?”
So many people butcher their myrtles. I feel sick every time I see one lopped off with nothing but chopped off trunks sticking up. They may as well go ahead and cut it down, and let it start over from the ground up. So I was really glad to receive this question. Here’s my reply, minus the small talk of thanking her for the question and for reading my article, etc:
First, do a little routine maintenance: Remove any dead wood and any branches that are growing back toward the center of the tree — this will allow air to move freely between the branches, and will help to maintain a healthy tree. (This is true for any tree.) Also, if you have two branches that rub against each other, one of them will need to be removed.
For controlling the width of the canopy: If it has a large spreading canopy, I would first remove the lowest branches at the point where they emerge from the main trunk, taking care to make a clean, smooth cut. Then, to reduce the overall width, remove the ends of the branches around the circumference of the canopy, but again, remove them at a joint in order not to spoil the natural appearance of the overall shape of the tree.
For controlling the height of the tree: Choose the tallest branches, and remove each one at the point where it grows out from its supporting branch. After you have done this, if the tree is still too tall, repeat the process, always taking care to cut at a joint, so as not to leave a branch that is just lopped off.
I also offered that if Sharon needs more info, to please send me a photo of her myrtle, so I can offer advice more specific to her particular myrtle. If you have a problem with your crepe myrtles or any of your plants, drop me a line. Include a photo when you can. If you have a question or comment related to crepe myrtles or pruning in general, just leave a comment below. For questions or comments on a different topic, please click on the “Contact Me” tab above to send an e-mail message.