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When to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas

Crepe myrtles or Crape myrtles are popular tree species in Texas due to their vibrant blooms and attractive bark. Proper pruning is essential to maintaining the health and appearance of these trees, but timing is important to ensure that the tree is not damaged or stressed. Learn all about when to prune crepe myrtles in Texas.

In Texas, the best time to prune myrtles is during the dormant season, usually late winter. February is usually an excellent month for pruning crepe myrtles in Texas. This allows the tree to properly heal and establish buds for the next growing season. Continue reading to learn how and when to prune crepe myrtle in Texas.

Tools for Pruning Crepe Myrtles in Texas

Before explaining when to prune crepe myrtles in Texas, I will tell you what tools you need to prune crepe myrtles correctly. When pruning crepe myrtles, it’s important to use the proper tools to ensure that the cuts are clean and the tree is not damaged.

You will need the following tools and gear to prune crepe myrtles in Texas:

Pruning shears: These are hand-held scissors that are used to make small to medium-sized cuts on twigs and branches. They come in different sizes and styles, including an anvil and bypass pruners. Bypass pruners are better for cutting live branches as they make a clean cut and anvil pruners are used for dead or dry branches.

Loppers: These are more extensive hand-held tools that have long handles and jaws that open and close like scissors. They are used to making more significant cuts on thicker branches.

Hand saw: A hand saw is a long-bladed cutting tool with a handle, used for cutting branches that are too thick for pruning shears or loppers.

Safety gear: Always wear safety gear such as safety goggles, gloves, and gardening sleeves to protect yourself. Learn more about gardening sleeves.

For pruning larger crepe myrtles, it is best to use a ladder to reach the higher branches, and make sure the ladder is sturdy.

With these simple tools that you probably already have in your home, you can start pruning crepe myrtles in Texas. It is important to make sure to keep tools sharp and clean to help create smooth, clean cuts that will minimize damage to the tree. Disinfect your tools with alcohol before and after use.

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When to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas

When to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas? In Texas, the ideal time to prune crepe myrtle is in late winter or early spring, when the tree is still dormant. Most people prune crepe myrtles in February and early March.

This helps the tree heal properly and establish buds for the next growing season. This will allow the crepe myrtles to put their energy into growing new branches and leaves, rather than healing pruning cuts.

It is also important to note that crepe myrtles should be pruned in a specific way to promote healthy growth and maintain the tree’s natural form. Generally, this usually includes removing dead, damaged, or crossing branches, thinning the crown, and shaping the tree to control its size.

It is very important to prune the crepe myrtle at the right time (in this case February) so as not to delay the new shoots. Late pruning will cause your tree to have fewer flowers and take energy to heal branch cuts.

when to prune crepe myrtles in texas
When to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas? February is the best month to start pruning crepe myrtles in Texas.

How to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas

Follow these steps to properly prune crepe myrtles in Texas. Be sure to prune at the correct time as mentioned above:

Begin by trimming sparingly to prevent excessive pruning and ending up with only a handful of twigs. Start at the bottom of the plant and work your way up, following the order outlined, to shape the branches.

If needed, decrease the number of trunks on the tree. Though crepe myrtles typically have multiple trunks, limiting the number to three to five (no more than seven) can control its growth and enhance its appearance. Cut back to the larger trunk branches closest to the ground, without leaving any stubs.

Eliminate any suckers that have grown. These tiny shoots that frequently develop around the base of crepe myrtle trees will eventually become independent trees. Removing them now will prevent your crepe myrtle from becoming overgrown and unkempt.

It’s time to shape the branches. To maintain the tree-like appearance of your crepe myrtle, I recommend removing any branches that emerge from the trunk below five feet in height. On taller trees, you may want to start removing branches even higher. Therefore, take a step back and evaluate the tree before cutting anything off.

Proceed to the upper branches that are growing towards the tree’s center – remove any branches that cross, rub against each other, or are dead. Always cut back to an adjacent branch, just above a bud facing outwards, or at the branch collar (the enlarged area where the branch meets the trunk). Avoid leaving isolated or grouped stubs. Attempt to eliminate these unwanted branches before they become bigger than a pencil.

how to prune crepe myrtles
How to Prune Crepe Myrtles in Texas? In the image, you can see how to prune a crepe myrtle correctly. (Image source: UGA).

Tips for Pruning Crepe Myrtles

It is not necessary to remove old seed pods from crepe myrtles, but some may choose to do so as they can weigh down the branches and cause them to droop. However, it will not affect the blooming of the tree. If you do choose to remove them, doing so in late July may result in a second round of blooms in September. It’s also important to remember that it’s not essential for the growth and health of the tree to remove seed pods.

Final Conclusions

In conclusion, regular pruning is an important aspect of caring for crepe myrtles. Proper pruning helps maintain the tree’s shape, promote new growth, and prevent disease and pest infestations.

I hope this article on how and when to prune crepe myrtle in Texas is helpful. Remember that it is not necessary to prune this shrub too much. I recommend you read our article on how to prune crepe myrtle and when to prune crepe myrtle trees.

About Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan is an agronomist horticulture founder of The Garden Style Company and The Garden Style Website. He previously worked for Mondelēz International as an Agronomist Engineer specializing in agricultural products management in highly populated areas. In 2000, Henry started working with farmer-producers in agricultural businesses selling wholesale fresh produce and retail plants in Van Buren, Arkansas. Nowadays, Henry lives in California, where he offers expert consulting services for organic vegetable gardening. As a science writer working with his wife, Julia, Henry shares his passion for gardening and farming, trying to reach and teach as many folks as possible.

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