You hear about it all the time crape myrtles being unceremoniously chopped off before they can become what they should be. This pruning method is best known as crape murder. The result of crape murder is a plant that ends up with lollipop like flowering tops with branches that flop all around in the slightest breeze. Can you tell I’m not a fan? But I am a fan when the pruning is done right. That means allowing 1, 3, or 5 stems to grow into a multibranched tree. It’s a fantastic sight, when done right:
Here’s an example of crape myrtle pruning gone right! This crape myrtle at my parent’s house has been a allowed to grow into a full size tree. The suckers get cleaned up regularly and dead branches get pruned every now and then. This particular tree lost it’s other main branch because of the freeze of 2007. A couple new branches are being trained to replace that lost branch. Pruning a crape myrtle allows you to see one of it’s best features – the bark! Over time the bark begins to develop a mottled pattern that offers year round interest.
A quick crape myrtle tip: You can easily propagate crape myrtles from the suckers by taking a 4-6 inch piece, dipping it in rooting hormone, and sticking it into a moist medium. Also you can stick them in water and they will root in about a month. Just keep the water changed frequently.