Most varieties of crapemyrtles winter-over well in our area, but during extremely cold winters they can suffer and die back to the crown or completely die. If this severe die back occurs, you can choose to prune the stalks at ground level and start over. Overtime new stalks will bud off of old growth, but you may not like the appearance for several months.
When should I prune my crapemyrtles?
Crapemyrtles bloom on new growth. To encourage blooming your pruning should encourage new growth. Pruning in late fall or winter will encourage new growth to develop during warmer winter periods. This new growth can be damaged when cold weather returns, causing serious damage to the plant. For best results, prune in spring! Pruning along with proper watering and fertilizing will encourage new growth and beautiful blooms.
How do I make my crapemyrtles look like trees?
Many older varieties of crapemyrtles become overgrown and outgrow their intended space. In these instances I like to create a tree form crapemyrtle. Choose 5 or 6 main branches and cut them off above the first Y or split. Then cut all the other stalks back to ground level. In the spring and early summer keep any new stalks coming up from the ground cut back and clip off any new shoots on the main stalks which may grow below the first Y or split. This will make for a more ornamental look for overgrown crapemyrtles.
If your crapemyrtles are too gangly or leggy you can choose to cut them back so that they branch more and produce more foliage. When choosing how far back to prune imagine the finished or bushed out size you would like to see your crapemyrtle reach in summer. Cut the plant back to 50% of that size. This will allow the plant to leaf out and look fuller while still maintaining the blooming size you want.