Crape Myrtle Pruning
from the UGA Extension - Circular 944
Crape myrtles in tree form make wonderful accent plants or specimen trees.
Many cultivars develop attractive trunks with exfoliating bark that add interest to the winter
Crape myrtles flower on new growth of the season, so if you choose to prune, do so in
the dormant season, i.e. later winter to early spring before growth resumes Mid-
February to Mid-March.
Avoid pruning in early fall before the first frost, because pruning forces new growth and
keeps the plant from going dormant. Severe freezes can kill the plant if it is not fully
It is a common misconception that crape myrtles require pruning in order to flower.
The most natural and beautiful crape myrtle trees result from limited or no pruning.
In addition, aggressive pruning leads to increased shoots arising from below-ground
roots which is not only undesirable but it could result in powdery mildew spreading from
the shoots to the canopy of the tree. Aphids are also attracted to the succulent growth
which results from aggressive pruning.
If you choose to prune however, follow the simple steps:
First, remove shoots from the base of the plant.
Second, as the tree grows, remove lower branches from the bottom third of the tree to
expose the trunk character.
Last, remove crowded or crossing branches from the canopy.
The seed heads are an attractive feature and should be left on the tree. As the new
growth pushes in the spring, the seed heads fall off.