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

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Monday - March 05, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Pruning, Trees
Title: pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the house foundation? We are members of the LBJ Wildflower center. Thank you

ANSWER:

I love crape myrtles, but they are out of our normal expertise, being non-native.  However, I know that they can be kept at a height of 15 feet by an annual pruning, since they bloom on branches grown out new each year.  If the tree is only pruned every 2-3 years it begins to look quite knobby at the pruning point and is, in my opinion, ugly.  So pruning every winter will retain a natural look.  I would suggest planting it at least 6-8 feet from the house, as the diameter of a 15 foot tree can be almost 10 feet, as indicated in this Internet site.

 

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