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How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

Our Crepe Myrtle trees are in full bloom, and they are so heavy, they are about to completely fall over and uproot themselves. Can we prune them now, while they are in bloom, just to save them? What is the right thing to do here?

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

How big is the tree?

I think you've waited too long to trim it. A better time would be at the beginning of spring.

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

Stake them for now, if small enough. Prune when dormant.

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

best time is in spring just when they start to leaf out so you can see what's alive.
If you need to do it now to save it, go ahead. I would stake it too.
Fertilizing to help the roots spread woud would help. An organic granular spread broadly would help the roots.

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

Crepe Myrtles are hardy plants (if healthy).

While in bloom, I see no harm in pruning 10% to reduce the height & weight, if you say that they're in danger of uprooting. For that to happen, they must be pretty tall. You still have 1-2 months of growing.

Also, if you're in a snow area, branches can break from weight of snow if there too many multiple branches.

Whether now, or in early spring, you can try pruning yourself from the ground. Pruning from a ladder is a bit precarious, but hiring a professional is also expensive.

For pruning techniques, look at TOH (Roger Cook) and Youtube. IF your myrtles are healthy, you can prune 1/3 off to reduce the height & weight (a hard or restoration pruning). You have to determine the main branches, cut off crossing branches, and determine WHERE to cut (before or after a Y end). Here's where I'm off my base of experience - - with many plants / trees, you prune at or above a Y end (otherwise, the branch just stops leafing). With a Myrtle, you can (??) prune a branch in the middle, and it will grow a new Y end and 2 new smaller braches. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, seek reliable advice.

I just had 5 myrtles pruned in May (2+ stories high, and late season), and cut off off about 20% (4-6 ft.). At first we were worried, but they have good new growth (new leaves) and we're beginning to see some magenta buds. I paid $575 for 5 trees - - it would be been $450 last year with other pruning.

Youtube has a video showing a myrtle pruned to almost a stump (abiding the 1/3 rule) and you won't kill it (assuming decent health).

You could approach this as a 2-year project, light pruning first to get comfortable with the effects, and do the 1/3 restoration pruning next spring, or bring in a professional who knows where & how to cut.

If any pruning is done, getting rid of the debris branches is a LOT of stuff. I needed 2 "free" town pickups and about 3 hours to haul this stuff from my back yard to the street in humid weather, up basically 2 flight of stairs as my property is sloped down.

One thing you can do is keep the myrtle base free of feeders, which are (heavy) weed like or other unwanted plant gowth. My 5 myrtles are surrounded by feeders and I use a lopper and backbending effort, and hours to pack/haul the debris. Fortunately, my town picks up the HD 30-gallon paper bags (leaves & brush).

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

Thanks for the help everyone! We have staked the one that looked about to go horizontal and uproot. There is nothing else in the tree to weigh it down, except a lot of blooms! Hopefully, this will last until it's dormant! We should have taken care of them in the spring, I just didn't think they would get THIS big over the summer! These things sure can grow!

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

mid feb. is when you prune crepes. hope that helps!

Re: How and When to Prune Crepe Myrtles

It's still kind of cold, and can snow in February, in No. Virginia.

When I lived in Silicon Valley, my myrtle would bloom suddenly in late April and wouldn't drop leaves until November. It seems I could do all kinds of gardening anytime except January, and the grass would remain green all months . . . ahhh.

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