Too Late To Prune Crepe Myrtles?

May 19, 2008 | By | Comments (19)

Q:I live in Winston Salem, N. C. Can I trim my Natchez crepe myrtles now? Thank you. Connie

A: ‘Natchez’ is one of the first crepe myrtles to bloom. I would advise against pruning it heavily now, because that could reduce flowering and will certainly delay it. However, feel free to due selective pruning to shape the plant to control its growth. Remove suckers growing from the base and all branches growing inward from the main trunks towards the center. You can also shorten branches that are in the way or have grown too tall by cutting them back by a foot or two to an outward-pointing twig or branch. But do not use saws or loppers to butcher the trunks into thick, ugly stubs. The resulting rank growth will be too weak to hold up the flowers and your plant will look uglier than a bulldog with lipstick. Grumpy


  1. Grumpy Gardener


    Absolutely not.

    March 29, 2016 at 1:22 pm
  2. carolyn anderson

    Is it too late to trim a crepe myrtle tree back once it start coming back for the spring with greenery on the lims of the tree,

    March 28, 2016 at 8:33 pm
  3. Grumpy Gardener

    It’s not too late to do this, but it isn’t necessary either. It will have no effect on blooming.

    March 17, 2016 at 3:40 pm
  4. Sharon

    My son has a crepe myrtle in his yard in northern Florida. Is it too late to clip off the dead blooms from last year?

    March 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm
  5. Steve Bender


    Any crepe myrtle in Charleston, SC that has not leafed out yet is not going to. You’ll have to replace it.

    May 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm
  6. lindadavanzo

    I live in Charleston and moved into a new house in Jan 2015. They planted a crepe Myrtle when they built our house. It still has not leafed out and it shows no buds. If I scrape the base of the tree it shows green. Should I trim all of the top branches off? Is it dead? All other Crepes that were planted the same time as ours have leafed out. Thanks for your help!

    May 5, 2015 at 11:45 am
  7. Steve Bender

    I’d guess it’s not getting enough sun. The best flowering happens in full sun.

    March 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm
  8. Cathy

    My Crepe Myrtles planted in MO 3 years ago, gets foliage, but never blooms. Any ideas why? Cathy

    March 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm
  9. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Sorry about your crushed crepe myrtle. I would go ahead and cut it back now. There’s still a full summer to go and crepe myrtle grows fast.

    June 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm
  10. Meg

    P.S. Charlotte, NC

    June 20, 2012 at 8:08 am
  11. Meg

    I just had a crepe myrtle get crushed by a falling oak limb. Poor CM will need to be reshaped, as it lost all its limbs on one side. Does it make sense to cut it back now, or wait until spring? BTW, the oak tree is being removed, so the CM will suddenly get a lot more sun than it has had… Thanks!

    June 20, 2012 at 7:53 am
  12. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Crepe myrtle blooms on new growth, so you can prune it now. It will flower a little later than normal, however.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:29 am
  13. sue

    is it to late to trim my crape myrtle 5-10-2012 i got it back in 2011 i never had one before thank you

    May 10, 2012 at 10:48 am
  14. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Not to worry, Jeanne. You can prune now. What you should do is prune off all the shoots that sprout from the end of each stub except for one or two. Let these shoots become the new main branches. In a couple of years, your crepe myrtle will be fine.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:13 am
  15. jeanne

    help! this crape myrtle was apparently pruned so that it only has one trunk–like a tree. but then it was a victim of crape murder and looks really bad. I’ve left it alone since we moved here-for about three years, hoping it would get to looking better. No luck. It is already leafing. Should i prune below the stubs? wait till next year? It is a well established plant at least 15 years old

    March 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm
  16. Grumpy Gardener

    Yes, wait to see if your crepe myrtle leafs out. If its stem is still green, it should.

    May 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm
  17. Kathleen

    I’ve planted a dwarf crepe myrtle in the fall for the past 2 years. The first one died and this last one looks dead but when I tried to remove it the stems broke but the root ball is firm. The stem looks green. In Missouri, you can only find crepe myrtles for sale in the fall. Should I wait and see if it sprouts?

    May 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm
  18. Grumpy Gardener

    No. Now is an excellent time. Check out my recent post, “Crepe Myrtle Pruning Step-by-Step.”

    March 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm
  19. M. Williams

    I have not pruned my crepe myrtles in over 2 years. I would like to do so now (March 19, 2009). Is it to late to prune them.
    M. Williams

    March 19, 2009 at 4:49 am

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