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A word from UGA Extension
Tips for pruning crapemyrtles
Ingram Sam
Sam Ingram

I know the call of when and how to prune a crapemyrtle will soon flood the office. Winter is truly not that far away and pruning our ornamental plants in the landscape should be performed during this time. One of the most popular ornamental plants is the crapemyrtle.

There are several varieties that differ in size and shape.

Knowing which variety that is in your landscape will help determine how to prune this plant. The reason for this plant’s popularity is because of its hardiness, it can withstand severe pruning and still produce new growth and blooms.

However, we have seen cases where severe pruning can lead to increase in diseases and insect issues on the plant. Some general tips on pruning a crapemyrtle are listed below, the tips are based on the shape of the plant you want in the landscape.

Tree form crapemyrtle:

1. Remove sprouts near the ground and along the trunk(s).

2. Remove interior sprouts that travel “crosswise” inside the top of the “tree”. Most of those you leave should be vertical or leaning towards the outside.

3. Shorten all long arching sprouts back to the point where they are one-half to one-fourth inch in diameter. You will have no dry flower heads left on the plant and it will have a nice “ice cream cone” shape — ready to bloom this summer.

Shrub form:

1. Remove no more than one-third of the plant

2. Remember that it grows vigorously in the summer, if you want a six foot tall plant, prune the plant back to four feet in the winter.

Correcting a poorly pruned crapemyrtle:

This will take time but can be accomplished in a few years. Remove the “knobs” by cutting the stem just below “knob.” The knob would be the place on the plant where several cuts have been made over several years in the same place on the plant. After new growth has occurred in the spring, select two or three sprouts to keep and remove the rest in May. Shape the plant the following winter to achieve the desired appearance.

At this point you should have a nicely formed crapemyrtle.

For more information, contact Effingham County Extension agent, Sam Ingram at 754-8040 or