Crepe Myrtle Space Required

Filed Under: Trees, Pruning, Gardenality Help · Keywords: Tree, height, space · 1307 Views
A crepe myrtle was planted too close to the house we purchased. The seller cut off branches, resulting in knobs. We allowed the tree to grow naturally and it has bloomed each year but is now as tall as the second story. Some of the branches are touching the siding of the house. Will this damage the siding and/or have harmful effect on the tree?

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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Denise-This unfortunately is a problem many have. I also purchased a home where the crape myrtle was planted to close to the home and had overgrown the area. This can definitely damage the siding and possibly the roof tiles. Unfortunately in our case, having a larger crape myrtle variety, its height and width will promote a problem every couple of years. Having to drastically prune the tree back each year (Crape Myrtle Murder) will create the ugly knuckles you are seeing. The best fix for the problem is to replace the tree with a smaller variety or what ever tree is planted is done so far enough from the home to grow naturally without having to drastically prune it.

If you want to keep the tree at this time there are a few things you can do to enjoy it for a few more years but in time the same problem will exist again. You can prune the stems back to within 8 inches of so above the knuckles to reduce its size. A couple of new stems will grow from just below the cuts producing a new canopy but of course the ugly knuckes will still be there. You can also cut below the knuckles, getting rid of them, and again a few new branches will develop from just below the cuts. After this each year these branckes can be cut back allowing two more new branches developing from below the cut eventually help to develop a nice new canopy again. I noted a link below to an article on proper pruning of a crape myrtle. It will show you how to prune you crape myrtle each year. You can also prune the trunks of you tree back to the ground and allow new shoots to grow again that can be pruned into a new tree again but of course it will only be a few years before it is too large for the area again. This is known as rejuvenation pruning. In my case I elected to keep my tree for a few more years as I really like the beautiful multi-trunk appearance in my garden. A few years ago I cut the trunks back below the ugly knuckles and each year pruned back the new stems to keep the tree smaller. I will definitely replace this tree in time but for now this was my only alternative to keeping the tree for a few more years even though the drastic pruning makes the tree less attractive than if it had been allow to grow naturally with proper pruning. I uploaded a few pictures of my tree cut back a few years ago. The pictures show the pruning that was done each year since then including this years pruning. Some cutting off of the smaller shoots still needs to be done. The crape myrtles recover well from drastic pruning but this pruning needs to be done in late winter or early spring before new growth appears if the tree is going to bloom well this year.

I noted some other links below to previous questions and answers other members had regarding the some problem. These may help you also decide what decision you want to make regarding the removal or pruning of your tree. If you would only like to prune the branches that are coming in contact with the home this can be done also. Cutting back any branches from the home will not harm the tree.

Please don't hesitate if you have any other questions.


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