Crepe Myrtle Trimming

Please Don't Hack Your Crepe Myrtle Trees

– Some tips on your crepe myrtle health, from Prairieville Tree Service

There’s a reason it’s called Crepe Murder…  it is devastating to your wonderful trees! Here is a few reasons why and how best to trim your Crepe Myrtles when its’s time…

1. The remaining stumps are so painfully ugly to look at.

2. This process will stop the formation of mottled bark on maturing trunks which is beautiful.

3. When the tree tries to grow back, the best it can do is a bunch of skinny brand new twigs coming off each stump. These twigs are frail and cannot hold up the flowers so they droop as they grow, bending down to the ground.


Most often the reason for this travesty is because the tree gets too big, which turns you back to the person that chose the location for the tree to be planted. Many crepe myrtle varieties grow at least 25-30 feet tall, especially the most common ones. Care must be taken to plant them away from buildings and windows. There are many varieties that will stay smaller throughout their life like Centennial, Prairie Lace, or Acoma. Let’s walk through some steps for pruning a Crepe Myrtle the kind way. Make sure you are pruning in late winter when it’s leafless and you can easily see all of the branches. When it comes back to life it will bloom on the new growth.

–    Before beginning, try to envision what you are trying to accomplish. After all, you can always go back and cut more, but you can’t add anything back. 

–    Here are the tools you will need to properly prune a crepe myrtle:

1. Hand pruners – for smaller branches less than ½” in diameter.

2. Loppers for medium sized branches up to 1-½” in diameter.

3. Pole pruners or a pruning saw for branches over than 1-½” inches in diameter.


What to Cut

Remove branches in the following order:

1. Cut the little branches growing off the base.

2. All side branches coming off the main trunks. Cut these up to a height of at least 4 feet.

3. All branches growing inward towards the center of the tree.

4. All dead, crossing and rubbing branches.

5. All awkward branches growing at angles that detract from the tree’s appearance.


Always cut back toward larger branches. Make sure you don’t leave stubs. You can remove seedheads at the end of branches if you want. 

The sad part is that people jack 6’ of beautiful growth off their trees over and over again and the knuckle grows another knuckle and creates a knobby mess. This ugly knobby mess is covered by a spaghetti forest of small weak branches that hang like a weeping willow.


Please take the time to find out the growth expectation for your particular variety of crepe myrtle before you plant and consider heavily where to plant before you move forward. Prune branches that are too close together or that cross or rub each other. 


Crepe Myrtles are a beautiful part of Louisiana. We need to love them, not murder them! Call Prairieville Tree Service today! 


Crepe Myrtle Trimming and Care in Prairieville, LA

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