There are three looks you can go for with the crape myrtle: The Single Trunk, The Multi-Trunk, and the Natural Look. 

FAQ: What are Suckers?
"Suckers" refers to the new growth that comes from the base of the trunk. Most people prune these off. However, if you want your Crape Myrtle to have a more "natural" look or would like it to have multiple trunks, leave some of the suckers to grow. Blooms will appear on new growth suckers.
Also, you will need to trim any new growth that appears on the main trunk that may turn into a branch. Focus all the branching to the top quarter of the tree.

Crape myrtles are gorgeous and they are equally as tough! They can take improper trimming. They can take almost any abuse and still come out blooming. They can even be cut back all the way to the ground and still come back. That's the good news. You don't have to worry about doing something wrong and hurting the plant. We've seen a lot of crape myrtles pruned differently, and they all survived to live another day. So get out there, and experiment, without worrying if you are damaging the tree. 

The Single Trunk

We've all seen those beautiful crape myrtles with the single trunk. This is a very easy look to achieve, though it takes the most effort.  With proper pruning, any of our beautiful sizes and varieties can become a single stem plant. First, be sure to keep the straightest trunk, cutting off the rest. Simply remove any extra stems protruding from the ground.  This includes any suckers. Also, trim any new growth that appears on the stem that may turn into a branch.  You want all of your branching to occur on the top quarter of the tree. 

The Classic Multi-Trunk

Crape Myrtles grow naturally with multiple trunks growing out of the ground. This is the classic look that most people associate with the tree. If you want the multi-trunk, allow your crape myrtle to branch along the length of the stem. Each growing season allow a few suckers to grow into stems. 

In this method, you allow all the trunks to exist within the plant; that is, all the trunks except the ones that are growing sideways or rubbing against others. Those you'll want to remove. Ideally, you'll want 3,5, or 7 trunks (there's the "rule of odds" in nature) with the rest being removed. You'll then trim each branch and stems coming out of those branches separately.

The Natural Look

Let your crape myrtle go au naturalThe Natural Look is the easiest because there is little to no pruning involved. Allow your crape myrtle to branch and spread naturally. Your Crape Myrtle will still bloom and be beautiful if watered often and properly fertilized. Keep in mind, it does mean the shape might look a little off center or disheveled when left to grow unpruned.

Whichever look you choose, make sure to keep good pruning practices in place and save yourself some work by looking at maturity sizes and width before planting in the location of choice. 

Read More: Pruning Crape Myrtles— Don't Cut Back!


CAROLE said:

location is Nashville TN

Carole said:

I have a corner in the yard I would like a single trunk RICH DEEP RED crepe myrtle because I do NOT want a wide “girth” lol if you will

but I ALSO don’t want higher than say…40? feet? Should I go Rose of Sharon instead?? Then I accept maybe 2 trunks but NOT a wide girth? ALSO WHICH DOES BEST to attract butterflies and/or hummingbirds? An important goal.


Sandy T said:

I have a single trunk tree that my nursery planted but after three years the trunk is only about an inch in diameter and still needs to be staked up. Is this tree a lost cause or will the trunk eventually grow enough tobe able to support the top?

Joe said:

I have a 4-trunk Natchez Crepe Myrtle that is about 10 foot high and approx 2 years old. We had a very bad cold spell the end of Feb this year in San Antonio – only one of the trunks (south facing) is sprouting leaves (March 21) – the other 3 show no signs of buds. I also have another of the same kind and size located about 30 feet away and all 4 of it’s trunks are budding… any thoughts?

Plant Me Green said:

We are located in North Florida…Monticello, Florida to be exact!

Lesley Spranley said:

Where are you located?

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