Should I Prune Off Crepe Myrtle Seeds?

August 28, 2014 | By | Comments (11)
Crepe myrtle pruning

Photo: Van Chaplin

Most people find the prospect of pruning only slightly less frightening than Carrie Fisher reprising her role as Princess Leia in the latest “Star Wars.” And one pruning question weighs upon them more than any other at this time of year. Should I prune off the seeds from my crepe myrtle?

The answer is yes. Or no. It all depends on two things. (1) How big is your crepe myrtle? (2) How bored are you?

Obviously, if your crepe myrtle is 30 feet tall, the chances of you renting a helicopter to safely lower you down to the top of the tree to prune are quite small. On the other hand, if your crepe myrtle was recently planted and is 10 feet tall or less, you can reach the seed pods to cut them off.

There are two logical reasons to remove them. First, on a small crepe myrtle, the heavy clusters of seed pods can weigh down the branches almost to the point that they’re touching the ground. Removing the seeds takes off the weight and the branches rise up. Second, if you remove the seed pods early enough in the year — say late July — you’ll probably get a second flush of blooms in September. That time has passed for 2014.

Some people think that if they leave on the seed pods, the crepe myrtle will not bloom next year. FALSE. It will bloom just fine.

So assuming your crepe myrtle is big enough that pruning off the seeds would be a royal pain, how bored do you plan on being this weekend? The last time I looked, college football is set to start its new season this Saturday. I plan on drinking beer and watching football. How about you?

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  1. Steve Bender


    My guess is that the difference was due to the weather, so there is really nothing you can do.

    December 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm
  2. charlie

    2013 my crepe myrtle bloomed great, I did very little to help it along, 2014 had very little bloom, is there something I should have done to help it ..?

    December 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm
  3. Marthatell

    Another reason to prune is to avoid having a million crape myrtle volunteers next year…unless, like me, you love digging them up , potting them & gifting them to friends. I’ve had years when after a windstorm, I’ve swept up crape seeds & filled plastic bags with them to save & give away!

    September 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm
  4. Belinda Palmer

    You can, and should, cut off dead or diseased growth at any time. Pruning after mid-summer may well indeed encourage new growth that will winterkill. It won’t hurt to leave the seedpods on, but removing them right after blooming will direct energy back to the plant rather than seed production, and may spur rebloom on some cultivars.

    August 31, 2014 at 11:34 am
  5. Timothy C. Hicks

    prunning now august and september before the frost may encourage growth The growth now is bad because it can possibly increase winter damage.The prunning of seeds will remove a bird food source, i leave the seeds on and place empty soil filled pots under the trees, each year I am rewarded with baby hybirds since i have 20 or more mixed cultivars around my home.

    August 31, 2014 at 6:54 am
  6. Bob Allen

    I have removed spent seed pods the past two years and have gotten subsequent blooms. Mine is only about eight feet tall (and I plan on keeping it that height) so I can prune without have to get on a ladder.

    August 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm
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    August 29, 2014 at 3:06 am
  8. pe

    Thank you for a great information about seeds.

    August 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm
  9. Vicki Crowe

    My husband and I are against “Crepe murder,, but ours are getting so tall now, how do we now maintain them? Ours are located in our retaining wall area next to our house and they are as tall as our house. Is there a point that we DO crop them off across the top to keep them from getting taller, but get fuller across the top?

    August 28, 2014 at 7:38 pm
  10. Richard Lawrence

    Hello Steve, Here’s one for you. We live in central Kentucky and last winter was rather harsh on our Crepe Myrtle. There are 2 trunks that are “half dead”. The other trunks and there respective branches are fine. The north east half of the unfortunate ones show no sign of life (and there naught but dead stalks coming off that side of both.) The good side of the trunks have properly pealing bark and live stalks. It’s as if they had a stroke of sorts. I’ve let them be as I wanted to see if the thing would sprout out new growth before writing them off. Any new growth has occurred, and that which is dead, well, is dead. So the pruning question. Can I cut the trunks at the split between the dead branches and the live ones? Would there be any advantage or disadvantage to cutting back / off dead branches at this time of year? Should I just wait until late February and do it all then?

    August 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm
  11. Lisa Green

    I love the Grumpy Gardener. He gives good common sense advice, and he’s also quite funny!

    August 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

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