Make 2020 a "be kind to crape myrtles'' year. Most need only a trimming to flower profusely and keep their lovely natural shape. If you have a good reason to stump-prune these plants, I want to hear about it.
Perhaps you see them too -- the butchers, cutting the crape myrtles back to large stubby trunks. I am sorry if I offend a few people, but where did this tradition begin and why does it continue - Someone tell me -- please.
I find very few instances where crape myrtles need a harsh pruning. In most cases, all you do, and only if you want to, is cut off the old seed heads. Some also like to remove the small, twiggy shoots among the trunks and that is all right too. It is also wise to keep the trees to one trunk and crape myrtle bushes to 3 to 5 trunks by removing competition from the base. That is it -- the job is finished.
So why do some gardeners and commercial companies take off a lot more? One friend of mine says it's so they don't have to come back later and do more pruning. Well, if you don't prune them at all, you get a small tree or shrub that needs little if any pruning.
Others say they have crape myrtles that get too tall. My thought is you then have the wrong plant or wrong crape myrtle for the spot. Crape myrtles can grow from 2 feet to over 20 feet tall and wide. You need to select the right variety for your landscape. If you would like to check out the great variations in crape myrtles, download this University of Florida Extension bulletin Crape Myrtle in Florida -- http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG266
If you do have an out-of-control crape myrtle, maybe it needs to be moved and not so severely pruned.