ARTICLE - How To Prune a Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtles are beautiful flowering trees that can add an adornment of flowers to your yard every year. To ensure that the crepe myrtles bloom and thrive from year to year, it is essential to not only prune them correctly, but at the right time as well. These unique flowering trees bloom from new growth, so pruning them each spring after they have started to get new leaves, will help them to grow and flower more.

Pruning Steps

  1. Remove any suckers that you see at the base of your crepe myrtle tree. Suckers are small sprouts that form from the base of established crepe myrtles. These need to be removed so that the main tree can thrive, and to give the base of crepe myrtle a cleaner look. Newly formed suckers are very soft, and can usually be removed by hand. Larger suckers will need to be removed by your weed eater or sheers.
  2. Choose a height that you want your crepe myrtle to be, and prune it to that height. For example if you want a 5-foot tree, then each spring when the new leaves start to break out on the crepe myrtle cut all the branches above that height uniformly, using a hedge trimmer, loping shears, or other tool of your choice. This will keep the crepe myrtle the same height year after year, and will form new growth, causing a fluctuation in the amount of blooms this tree will have. This system of "whacking" is one way to prune a crepe myrtle, but another can be found in the next step.
  3. Pick out the 4 to 6 strongest branches on your crepe myrtle tree. This will begin the natural pruning process. Unlike height pruning or whacking, natural pruning focuses on creating a crepe myrtle composed of only the strongest branches, thus giving it a less complex and more simple look.
  4. Cut off all but the 4 to 6 strongest branches that you chose with lopping sheers, hedge trimmers, or other tools, and admire your work. You should see only 4 to 6 branches growing up, and these will provide your crepe myrtle with a strong base for years to come. Each subsequent year you will need to cut off all branches except for the original 4 to 6 chosen branches.
  5. Fertilize your crepe myrtle with a top of the line fertilizer to ensure that the pruning has the greatest effect, and that the crepe myrtle will grow and flower well. View the resources below for more information on crepe myrtles.


  • Prune the crepe myrtle trees about 4 inches above their knuckles, or place where the branches form a Y shape.
  • Remove suckers as soon as they appear on the crepe myrtle to avoid the loss of nutrients or water going to your tree.
  • Be careful when using sharp sheers to trimmers, these can cause injury if caution is not used.

Items/Tools Needed

  • Pruning sheers
  • Weed eater
  • Crepe myrtle trees
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Fertilizer