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The Proper Way to Trim Crape Myrtles

The best way to trim crape myrtles is to round them out lightly at the top. Not topping them. There is a significant difference between topping and rounding them out. A good example of that is the crape myrtles Embark maintains at Memorial City Mall. Embark Services trims the crape myrtles there every year by cutting the tops, and rounding them out a little bit in a snow cone shape, which creates a minor amount of stress, causing the flowers to flush out and look very vibrant.

What is the best time of year for trimming?

The best time of year for this type of tree trimming is towards the end of the growing season, around the end of September or beginning of October. The goal is to do the tree pruning whenever they’re dormant because that is the lowest time of stress.

Is there an age in which you start or stop trimming crape myrtles?

You can do it their whole life. The goal is to be careful to trim it the right amount of times per year, at least once, sometimes twice, while also making sure that the trimming doesn’t create unnecessary stress. Over trimming or improper pruning can shorten their lifespan. We’ve all heard the term crape murder within the horticultural community. This malpractice consists of topping the canopy out repeatedly and bringing them back to their first knuckles, so to speak. The main reason this is an unhealthy practice for the tree is because it stresses them out so much making them vulnerable to tree diseases and insects. These two tree problems are some of the most common issues for crape myrtles. There are common insects and diseases that are threats throughout all seasons of the year, so whenever a tree is severely cut it can shorten their lifespan and create opportunity for infection. In addition, aggressively topping out a crape myrtle is not aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, for the most part, people know this trimming style is outdated.

In summary, crape myrtle trimming should be gentle and done at the right time of year, for their health and longevity. In addition to trimming, it is important to get the twigs, suckers and little branches, no bigger than the size of your pinky, trimmed away as well. We can do this as part of our tree pruning services or something you can do yourself. Proper trimming leads to a beautiful, well-shaped crape myrtle down the road. It creates a nice, clean canopy that’s open, airy, and doesn’t allow for a lot of moisture to build up, which can lead to tree disease like the black sooty mold.

with Isabella Reyes