Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - January 27, 2008

From: Lago Vista, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning
Title: Pruning of crepe myrtles
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have three crepe myrtle trees in my yard. When do I trim back the branches? What if I waited too long to trim them back? Can I still do it? How far do I trim them back? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtle) is native to China and, as such, is not a plant we would ordinarily recommend, as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America. However, we do try to help out gardeners with plants they have already purchased, native or not.

Once upon a time, while taking the Master Gardener classes, the Extension Agent for Horticulture proposed to show us how to prune a crape myrtle. She then stood there, with her clippers at her side and did nothing. The point being made there was that the less done, the better. At the other end of the spectrum is the common method used by landscape contractors called "chain saw pruning". This is advertised as a way to promote more blooms, but in our opinion, what it produces is grotesque stubs in the winter and early spring, and then gangly, weak-stemmed trees in the summer. Pruning is best done on the crape myrtle in late winter, which is from about now until the end of February in the Central Texas area. The structure and the decorative bark on the trunks of crape myrtle are some of their chief assets; another reason to object to chopping them off at the knuckles. Pruning should ordinarily involve removing only dead and twiggy growth, thus exposing the structural aspect of the tree.

This Floridata website will give you more complete details on the care of your crape myrtles.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Care for non-native Centipede grass
February 27, 2013 - My lawn is Centipede. I have created a new lawn area. Can and when should I seed/overseed my lawn? I have Rye in the new area.
view the full question and answer

Viability of non-native Royal Poinciana in Austin
August 20, 2008 - My question is about the tree called Royal Poinciana that grows so well in the Rio Grande Valley. I realise it isn't a native but hope you have an opinion about its chances of survival in Austin. ...
view the full question and answer

Aging non-native weeping willow in Ohio
June 11, 2008 - We had a weeping willow now for about 15 years and it was doing fine until this summer. It has new branches sort of but a lot of the older ones are dying. There are leaves of course and they are sti...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native guavas be successfully moved from Gulfport MS?
April 19, 2011 - Can guavas be moved successfully from one established planted location to another? My mother is having to relocate due to MDOT and we would like to move her established guavas. Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for shrub in Florida
September 03, 2011 - On our street we have ornamental shrub planted in the median that has small waxy green leaves, produces small fragrant white flowers, and red berries with white pulp and small seeds on the inside. Th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.