Pruning crape myrtles properly, like any other skill, requires knowing what you are doing to achieve success. The old idea that anyone with a chain saw or a pruning saw can be a landscape pruner is far from the truth. More trees are killed or ruined each year from improper pruning than by pests. Remember that pruning is done to supply additional energy for the development of flowers and limbs that remain on the plant. Pruning essentially involves removing plant parts to improve the health, landscape effect, or value of the plant.
The practice of chopping off the tops of crape myrtle trees has become very commonplace but is completely unnecessary. Many people believe that it is required to promote flowering; some prune because the plant is too large for the space provided; others see their neighbors doing it and feel the need to follow suit. There are some instances in which pruning crape myrtles properly requires heavy pruning, but light pruning is usually all that is needed. The amount of pruning depends on the desired shape and size of the plant.
Crape myrtle can be a low-maintenance plant, and besides adhering to pruning crape myrtles properly, the best way to ensure this is to choose the cultivar that best suits your landscape needs before planting. There are many new cultivars in different sizes and colors. The dwarf (3 to 6 feet) and semi-dwarf (7 to 15 feet) selections now available make it easy to choose the right size plant for a certain space.