Trimming of crepe myrtles to bloom again

stevorenoJuly 22, 2007

I live along the Mississippi Gulf Coast; in Biloxi and have large very colorful crepe myrtles which are in full bloom now. Once the blooms die out can I trim the trees again this summer to get a second set of blooms?

I was told that once the blooms loose their color I could trim the trees back from the edge of each branch down to where the blooms stop; roughly a distance of about 8 to 10 inches pruned off of each branch or no more than where the black bloom pods stop and the trees would bloom a second time during the summer. Is that true or not because if it is I want to do it so I can enjoy a second set of colorful blooms this summer on my crepe myrtle trees across the back of my yard.

Stevoreno

Biloxi, Mississippi

07/22/07

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stevoreno

If I've posted my question in the wrong forum would someone please let me know so I can post it in the correct forum so I can try to get my question answered? Should I have posted in the "shrubs" forum and not the "trees" forum?

Stevoreno
Biloxi, Mississippi
07/22/07

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:07AM
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jeff_al

i have done that and they did bloom again but the flowerheads will be much smaller second time around. it was easy enough to remove the old clusters on a small crape myrtle but i would think a lot of work to cut each one out of a large one.
they are still looking very full and colorful here in their initial bloom.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 11:08AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I saw your question on the shrubs forum, but didn't know what you were asking, so came over here. I just couldn't let a question from a fellow Mississippian go by! I live in Meridian. Anyway, Crape Myrtles are hard to classify! Trees...shrubs...they're kind of both, though I think taxonomically, they are shrubs. The info you got about cutting off spent blooms is correct. You may have noticed the green, round, ball-like things on the end of the branches. They can fool you. You think they're new flowers forming, but they are actually seeds. If you cut them off, the tree (shrub) will produce more flowers. But even if you don't religiously cut them off, most crapes will continue to bloom all summer, though not as heavily. That's why they call them the Tree of a Hundred Days. (I guess it is a tree! :)

If I may, can I share with you my own prejudice? Please do not pollard your crape myrtles in late winter or early spring, as is so commonly done here. (in other words chop off their limbs in mid-branch) Many folks in our part of the country will tell you they will bloom better if you do. NOT true. And, to me, the winter form of a well-grown crape myrtle is just as beautiful as it is in bloom, maybe more so. As they grow and get older, the trunks and branches look like sculpture.

Yes, cut off excess branches (at their point of origin on the trunk or limbs) to showcase the form of the tree. Yes, nip off spent blooms. But don't leave big stumpy limbs that produce big knotty scar tissue, and then sprout a hundred small branches that grow in every direction like witch's brooms. I will probably get all kinds of disagreements on this, and I say ahead of time, everyone has a right to their own opinion, including you, but this is such a common practice that I believe most people do it because it's standard procedure, and they've never questioned it. Thanks for listening!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 12:53PM
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katrina1(OK)

Prune away the spent blooms on each individual branch all the way back to the first set of three leaves.

As for the little balls, If you do not prune away the declining flowers soon enough, yes they will set seed balls. These seed balls grow to be larger than the small ball shaped pre-bloom flower buds.

For that reason I try to only cut away the spent flowers which have grown seed balls larger than the buds that I see on the the branches which clearly have not bloomed yet.

It is true that the tree will keep blooming even if you do not do the pruning. Only thing is the tree will have more bloom cycles if you to do prune them as I described above.

In my zone, it is best to stop the "force rebloom" pruning by early September, so the tree can begin to slow down its growth and better harden off its latest growth, while it also puts lots of effort into maturing its seeds. Otherwise if I keep pruning the spent blooms till frost the tree seems to suffer more winter kill, which has to be pruned away the following spring.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 2:45AM
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stevoreno

So if my crepe myrtle blooms are now almost gone now is the time to trim them again if I want to get another blooming this year? Is there a site that displays all the colors of crepe myrtles? Mine are a cross between watermellon red and a deep hot pink. My neighbor has white ones and another neighbor has purple ones but I like the ones in my yard the best and they came with the house; they were already planted in the yard many years ago when I bought the house and to answer someone else's question I did not trim them back in the fall last year; I left them alone. Should they be trimmed in the fall each year or not? Thank you to those who answered my post.

Stevoreno
Biloxi, Mississippi
07/24/07

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:43AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Yes, this is the time to trim off the spent blooms. As to the many varieties available, check out The Southern Living Garden Book. It has a great chart that shows all the different varieties and gives good info on each one.
They do not need to be trimmed every fall, unless you just want to cut off the spent bloom pods (seed pods).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:55AM
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stevoreno

Donnabaskets:

Thanks for the post.

Stevoreno
Biluxee, Mississippi
07/27/07

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:45AM
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stevoreno

Which forum would I post a question in about sago palms? I have several large ones in my yard which I'd like to get rid of and I'd like to know since it's so hot in my area right now should I wait until the fall when the weather is cooler to get rid of them?

Stevoreno
Biloxi, Mississippi
07/29/07

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:01AM
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quirkyquercus

If you want to talk about getting rid of palms this is the forum to ask in. If you want to ask about caring for or saving/preserving the palms, the cycads or tropicla form would be a better choice.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 9:40AM
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katrina1(OK)

Stevoreno, start a new post on this trees forum with the subject indicating the question of how and when to get rid of your sago palms. That way you might get a response hit from someone who especially knows more about your palm then your CM question.

You might also share how well established the palms in question are, and when they were planted.

I have read that palm trees grow extremely deep roots, but when transplanted take many, many years of growing in the right conditions before they establish a good root system.

Is what I read true?

If so, I'd expect the condition of your palms' rootsystems to play a role in how and when to remove them.

Concerning your Cm question on this post, do you think you might have a 'Tuscarora' cultivar? I think that the color of their blooms can be slightly different shades of watermellon pink, depending on the acid or alkaline levels of your soil.

One other Tree type Cm that I really like is the 'Biloxi' cultivar, which has a bubblegum pink color. This cultivar must have been cultivated in your area since the cultivar name is the same as your town in MS. If so, it might already be over planted in your area. If that is the case, then you probably do not agree with me about this cm's special qualities.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 12:16PM
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stevoreno

Katrina1:

Now that you mentioned it my crepe myrtles do seem to have a deep "bubble gum" pink color. Just curious; did you choose the username Katrina1 before or after Hurricane Katrina? We down here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast don't particularly like any mention of the name "Katrina". I didn't say "Katrina1" I simply said "Katrina". Thank you for the post and you have a nice day you hear.

Stevoreno
Biloxi, Mississippi
07/29/07

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:27PM
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stevoreno

Katrina1:

Are you mad at me? I was just kidding with you. If you're mad with me I'm sorry.

Stevoreno
Biloxi, Mississippi
07/31/07

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 8:43PM
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