3 Different Ways to Prune Your Crape Myrtle
There are three looks you can go for with the crape myrtle: The Single Trunk, The Multi-Trunk, and the Natural Look.
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 natural! The 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!