Q:I live in Winston Salem, N. C. Can I trim my Natchez crepe myrtles now? Thank you. Connie

A: 'Natchez' is one of the first crepe myrtles to bloom. I would advise against pruning it heavily now, because that could reduce flowering and will certainly delay it. However, feel free to due selective pruning to shape the plant to control its growth. Remove suckers growing from the base and all branches growing inward from the main trunks towards the center. You can also shorten branches that are in the way or have grown too tall by cutting them back by a foot or two to an outward-pointing twig or branch. But do not use saws or loppers to butcher the trunks into thick, ugly stubs. The resulting rank growth will be too weak to hold up the flowers and your plant will look uglier than a bulldog with lipstick. Grumpy

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