Cutting big crepe myrtles into "fenceposts" produces wild, weak growth and ruins their form. The only penance for this crime? Cut them back to the ground in winter, and start all over.
Joseph De Sciose
The Right Way To Prune
For a beautiful plant, follow these guidelines.
- Prune in late winter. February is ideal.
- Remove suckers at the base, crossing or rubbing branches, and branches growing inward toward the center of the plant.
- As the tree grows, gradually remove all side branches from the main trunks up to a height of 5 feet or so.
- Cut back to another branch, to just above an outward-facing bud on a branch, or to the branch collar (a swollen area where the branch joins the trunk). Never leave lone or clustered stubs.
- Try to remove unwanted branches before they get thicker than a pencil.
- It's okay but unnecessary to cut off old seedheads.