Can I Prune Crape Myrtle Below Knuckles

Filed Under: Pruning, Techniques & Methods · Keywords: Pruning, Crape Myrtle, Knuckle, Below, Knuckles, Rejuvenate · 10923 Views
should you cut out the "knuckle" on a crepe myrtle to start growing properly

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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Hi John-Pruning back crape myrtles below the knuckle is not a proper way to prune this tree. Unfortunately many chop their crape myrtles below the knuckle every year reducing the number of blooms and producing branches that will grow far too long and therefore not be able to support the weight of heavy blooms. These long branches weep over and often break off during heavy rains and wind.
Pruning below the knuckles is not a correct approach to prune your tree, but there are times that heavy pruning is helpful for the long-term growth of a crape myrtle. If your tree has been pruned at the same place every year incorrectly, developing these knuckles, it may be neccessary to cut under the knuckle to allow new growth to provide a healthier more well shaped canopy. After this heavy pruning you should follow the correct pruning proceedures in the article in Gardenality 'How To Prune A Crape Myrtle'.
If possible it would be helpful if you could upload a picture of your tree. Brent and Brooks Wilson are very knowledgable regarding crape myrtle pruning and can give you a more substantial answer on how and where to prune your crape myrtle. Below your question and to the right of your name next to Edit Your Question you will see where you can upload a picture.

8 years ago ·
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Answer #2 ·'s Answer · Hi John, In order to give a more accurate opinion, it would be nice to see a picture. However, basically, there are three ways you can go regarding corrective pruning of a crape myrtle that has been cut back too closely to the knuckles for many years.

The first method involves leaving the knuckles there, allowing the tree to reestablish itself, doing no pruning at all except to remove suckers from the base of the tree or branches that emerge along the trunks beneath the canopy.

The second method involves leaving the knuckles there and cutting back branches that have sprouted from the knuckles to about 12 inches or so above the knuckles. This process can be repeated in late winter or early spring for several years and then the tree can be left alone to grow naturally.

The third method involves removal of the knuckles by cutting the main branches just beneath the knuckles, then following proper pruning practices for several years at which time the tree can be left alone to grow naturally.

Which method you choose might depend on several factors including the age and height of the tree. I might use the one of the first two methods for older, larger trees and the third method for smaller trees.

Here's a link to an article providing proper pruning instructions for crape myrtle.

Keep in mind that after several years of properly pruning a crape myrtle that further pruning is not necessary. Also, any major pruning should be performed in late winter or very early spring, before new growth has begun to emerge.)

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Answer #1 ·'s Answer · Hi John F. A picture would be good. Johns comment was very accurate.

Brooks Wilson))

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