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How to Get a Second Bloom Cycle on Crepe Myrtles

Maria is a master gardener and master of public health. She & her husband, known online as The Gardener & The Cook, live in coastal Alabama.

This article will break down how to get your crepe myrtles to enter a second bloom cycle, and produce showy blossoms like these.

This article will break down how to get your crepe myrtles to enter a second bloom cycle, and produce showy blossoms like these.

Yes! You Really Can Have Two Bloom Cycles on Crepe Myrtles

Some years, the first bloom cycle of crepe myrtles lasts a month or more. Other years, it seems to go away far too soon. Have you ever wished those gorgeous mophead-sized blooms would last a few weeks longer? Well, they can. All it takes is a little effort on your part to have beautiful blossoms for up to two months, maybe more. With minimal effort, this time can be stretched for both your enjoyment and that of your neighbors.

It's time to remove those spent blooms. Once these green seed pods turn brown, it will be too late.

It's time to remove those spent blooms. Once these green seed pods turn brown, it will be too late.

How to Get Your Crepe Myrtles to Bloom Twice

Here's how to get a second bloom cycle: simply cut off the old bloom heads after they have finished blooming, but before they go to seed. At every cut, two or more new bloom heads filled with the buds for clusters of tiny flowers will emerge within just a few days. They will be just as large and full as the ones produced by the first bloom cycle of the season.

Remember, when cutting off the bloom heads, you are pruning your crepe myrtle trees. This will cause the limbs to branch at the point where you made the cut. Be sure to make a nice, clean cut, so there is no invitation to disease or pests.

Where to Cut

Make your cut just past the old bloom heads, and just in front of the first or second leaf junction as shown in the photo below. When moving from one plant or tree to another, be sure to sterilize your running shears by spritzing them with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. This will prevent the spread of any potential disease or pests from being carried from one damaged plant to all the others.

I have a little clear plastic spray bottle that I keep filled with alcohol. Every time I use my pruners, I spray them and set them aside to dry. The alcohol evaporates quickly. You can also soak them in bleach, but they will likely rust, so I recommend using plain old rubbing alcohol.

Always Cut Just Above a Joint

Here's a look at where to cut -- just above the first leaf below the flower cluster.

Here's a look at where to cut -- just above the first leaf below the flower cluster.

The White Flowers of the Natchez Crepe Myrtle, known for its spreading canopy and beautiful cinnamon-colored peeling bark.

The White Flowers of the Natchez Crepe Myrtle, known for its spreading canopy and beautiful cinnamon-colored peeling bark.

Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles

While cutting off those spent bloom heads, you can do some shaping, too. If you see any small limbs that have begun growing back toward the center of the tree, go ahead and remove them while they are small. Even if they are large, they need to be removed, but it is much easier when they are still small.

Also, if any of the limbs rub against each other, one of them should be removed, as this will damage the bark on both of them. For more information about pruning your crepe myrtle trees, please see my related article Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles.

Here you see damage from limbs rubbing together and limbs that have fused together due to rubbing against each other. One has been removed above the fusion point.

Here you see damage from limbs rubbing together and limbs that have fused together due to rubbing against each other. One has been removed above the fusion point.

Here you can see the new bloom cycle that will yield twice as many flower heads as before.

Here you can see the new bloom cycle that will yield twice as many flower heads as before.

The photo above was taken 7–10 days after removing spent bloom heads. New flower buds can already be seen. Just as with any other type of pruning, two or more new shoots will appear at each cut. This one cut produced multiple new bloom heads that burst open just a few days later.

Crepe Myrtle Seed Pods

Crepe Myrtle Seed Pods

Crepe Myrtle Seed Pods

Collect Seed From Your Myrtles and Grow Lots of These Lovely Trees

Do you want to grow more crepe myrtles? Just leave some of the spent bloom heads on your tree until they dry out. You can allow the seed to fall to the ground and sprout, or you can collect it and plant it elsewhere. You can also start the seed indoors for planting in the fall or the following spring.

The photo above shows the seed pods that hold the seeds. I broke them off the trees a bit late, so these pods are mostly empty. Crepe myrtle seeds are little hard balls. Soaking them in water until they send out a tiny sprout will speed up the process. When planting them into the ground, they should be placed where they will not be stepped on. When they have grown larger, they can be moved to a permanent location.

It's Not Nice, But It's Fun to Trick Mother Nature!

I really enjoy working with plants and trees, and trying to get them to perform for me. Doing things like getting a second bloom cycle on crepe myrtles is fun and challenging. Do you like to try to trick Mother Nature? Please share some of your tips and tricks. With your permission, I will share them on this page. If you haven't tried getting a second bloom cycle on your myrtles, try it, and let me know how happy it made you.

© 2013 MariaMontgomery

Have you ever removed your spent blooms to get a second bloom on your crepe myrtles?

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on February 11, 2015:

@ bravewarrior, I'm so glad you commented on this article, because you had asked me where in central Florida where I live. I didn't want to say it publicly, and planned to try to e-mail you later, believing HP had a way for readers to contact its writers through HP. I couldn't find a "contact" button, then I couldn't remember where it was that you posted the question. I also couldn't remember your screen name -- duh! I will send you a Facebook friend request, then send a private message. It could be that we live close to each other

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on February 11, 2015:

You're very welcome. Thanks for your nice comment. See you around HP.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 11, 2015:

I love my Crepe Myrtle. It has purple blooms, my favorite color. Many landscapers cut the trees back during the winter. They look ridiculous! I learned from gardening guru, Tom McCubbin, years ago that cutting the trees back is not necessary.

When my tree has finished blooming, I remove the dried seed heads by hand. Once I do that, I get a new crop of buds.

It never dawned on me that there are viable seeds inside those pods. Thanx for the info!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on July 10, 2014:

@Nancy Hardin: Oh, I wish you did, too. I just cut the spent blooms on the lower branches a day or two ago, but need a ladder to do the others. My tree will soon be too large for me to do the upper ones. I guess next year I'll have a tree with a 2nd bloom cycle only on the bottom half. Won't that be strange-looking? Thanks for the squidlike and for your comment.

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on July 07, 2014:

I love Crepe Myrtles. Wish I had a gardener since I can no longer do those things. This is a great tip about getting them to bloom again. I always hated to see the blooms go away so quickly. Love this lens!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on August 23, 2013:

@tracy-arizmendi: Thank you, and thanks for the squidlike and for commenting on this lens, too. Crepe murder is so very sad...

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on August 23, 2013:

@SusanDeppner: Isn't it wonderful when Mother Nature tricks plants into doing wonderful things like your's did? I'm looking forward to starting some from seed myself this year. Good luck with your.

Tracy Arizmendi from Northern Virginia on August 22, 2013:

Great tips!! I wish more folks knew how to prune their crepe myrtles here in Northern VA. I have witnessed many crepe myrtles that have fallen victim to "crepe murder" up here..

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on August 21, 2013:

I've never done this. In fact, this is the first year I've ever heard that you could cut off the old to welcome the new on crepe myrtles. It never occurred to me to dry out the seed heads, either. Must go check on our trees and consider doing that! We actually really had two blooming times this summer without cutting anything, just because the weather worked out perfectly for that. Bet the second would have been bigger and better had we pruned the first. Thanks for the helpful information!

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