In late winter and early spring many of your neighbors will get out their tools and proceed to butcher their crepe myrtles. They do this because they believe that cutting them back is the proper way to maintain the tree and that it will help produce extra blooms in the summer. I wouldn’t judge your neighbors too harshly though, they aren’t killers, just misinformed. And their punishment is an ugly tree.
The proper way to maintain a crepe myrtle is to treat it like any other large tree and prune and trim as needed. You wouldn’t top off an oak tree at 20 feet each year. Yet many of your neighbors are hacking their crepe myrtles so they end up at about 6 feet tall. A few years back, I even saw a guy use a circular saw to proudly cut through his crepe myrtle limbs that were 3 inches thick.
When you butcher your crepe myrtles in this way, all you are doing is creating big, ugly knots on the trunks of the tree (you can see a picture on our blog.) And then come summer, the few extra blooms you get will droop on spindly limbs that are too weak to hold the flowers weight.
The way to proper maintain a crepe myrtle:
> Trim off any limbs rubbing against each other or rubbing on your roof or fence.
> If you must trim more, try not to trim anything larger than a pencil.
If you want to see good crepe myrtle pruning I recommend a trip to the beautiful Dallas Arboretum. Their crepe myrtles are used during their tour for the blind because of the beautiful sculpted feel of their untrimmed trunks.