How To Prune A Dwarf Crape Myrtle

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This article provides instruction for pruning a dwarf, crape myrtle shrub
by Brent Wilson · All Zones · Pruning · 4 Comments · February 24, 2012 · 28,544 views

The method for pruning a lower growing, dwarf, shrub-form crape myrtle is much different than for pruning taller crape myrtle trees.

Plant breeders are continuing to improve and introduce new smaller growing crape myrtles which are useful for planting in smaller garden spaces or for growing in containers. There are several new dwarf series to consider, such as the Cherry Dazzle Dwarf Crape Myrtle (pictured right), Dixie Series, Fleming Filligrees Series, Little Chief Series and Petite Series crapemyrtles. Hardy to zones 6-9, all the varieties in these groups of dwarf plants hold attributes that make them easy to grow for home gardeners. They also look great just about anywhere: as a border, mass planting or part of a perennial garden, as well as in containers with annuals and perennials. They even work well in bonsai combinations, thanks to their small leaves, mature trunk and twisted branches.

How To Prune A Dwarf Crape Myrtle

The methods of pruning dwarf crape myrtle range from easy to not at all. For starters, the plants really don’t require pruning - they have a slow growth rate and a good natural form all on their own.

If your plants are full and dense, I'd suggest leaving them alone, or maybe just use hand pruners to snip off the old flower/seed heads from the previous season.

If your dwarf crape myrtle are young and sparsely branched, with maybe just a few widely spaced stems/branches, you might want to give them a pruning to make them more dense. If so, cut these branches back by one-third to half their height. Cut all stems in a way that the plant will form a nice, even, mounded or rounded shape when it fills out with foliage. Keep in mind when you are prune a crape myrtle that wherever you make your cut two or more new branches will emerge from just beneath where you make your cuts. So, the next year you'll want to prune 3 or 4 inches or so above where the previous years cuuts were made. This pruning method will double the number of branches every year. After a few years of pruning like this you shouldn't have to prune anymore - the plant will keep a nice, dense form all on its own.

When to Prune A Dwarf Crape Myrtle

Late Winter - You'll want to prune dwarf crape myrtle in late winter or early spring, before new leaves begin to emerge. That being said, broken or stray branches that spoil the shape of the crape myrtle can be removed any time of year.

Summer - Deadheading (the removal of faded flowers) can be done during the flowering season to encourage reblooming from summer through fall. To remove a faded flower cluster, simply snip it off with a pair of hand pruners.

If you need more details don't hesistate to ask a question in the comments section below and I'll be happy to answer it for you.

Brent Wilson

Meet The Author

Brent Wilson - Brent Wilson is an avid gardener and one of the co-founders of Gardenality. He is co-owner of Wilson Bros Nursery & Garden Center in McDonough Georgia


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Keywords

How To, Prune, Dwarf, Crape Myrtle, Shrub, Crepe


Joanne Pavlick

Joanne Pavlick · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Last spring I had a razzle dazzle crepe Myrtle planted, live in NE Pa so over the cold winter (with not being covered) when spring came branches looked dead, I did not trim it at all. But then leaves appeared & it looks healthy, my question is that these dead branches are still there, it is now hot August so should I trim these dead branches or wait unit winter?

9 months, 1 week ago ·
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Brent Wilson

Brent Wilson · Gardenality Administrator · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Hi Joanne - You can and should remove dead branches after new growth has emerged in spring or at any time during the active growing season. So, yes, I'd go ahead and remove all dead branches now. If the same thing happens next year just remove all the dead branches right after new leaves emerge.

9 months, 1 week ago ·
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Joanne Pavlick

Joanne Pavlick · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Joanne Pavlick
Hi Brent, middle October in Pennsylvania, expecting a frost one night this week, should I cover my crepe Myrtle before frost or leave it be as I did last year. Confused as to covering or not and how to cover the plant?

7 months, 2 weeks ago ·
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Brent Wilson

Brent Wilson · Gardenality Administrator · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Hi Joanne - A frost won't hurt a crape myrtle. Most varieties of crape myrtle will tolerate o degrees without any damage. So my suggestion would be to only cover a crape myrtle if temps are forecast to go below 0 F. As soon as temps go back above 0 you can remove the covering. There in Pennsylvania I'd also suggest applying some extra mulch to help insulate roots. An extra 2 or 3 inches would be good. Mulch can be thinned back to 2 inch thick when spring arrives. Mulch left too thick can prevent water from reaching roots and can also hold too much moisture in the soil during periods of excessive rainfall.

7 months, 2 weeks ago ·
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