Crepe Myrtle - single trunk goal

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Could anyone please give me some advice on how to train this fella to a single trunk? It’s still young with no real discernible separations of trunks just a big wad at base before roots. I was thinking about lopping off everything on right side of that wider branch on left as low to ground as I could. Don’t want to kill it but I really do want this to be a single trunk tree one day. I know to keep suckers away and yes I also don’t like seeing “crepe murder” any advice is appreciated.
-Mack
 
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Hello, and welcome to the Forum.

Do you want the trunk to be ramrod straight, like a commercially grown, single-trunked Crepe Myrtle standard, or would you be fine with having a trunk with 'character', somewhat slanted or crooked? The latter will be much easier to achieve with what you have now.

If you do want an informally shaped trunk, you should select the branch you want to be the trunk and then cut all other basal branches off. Narrow side branches on the trunk and at the base should be shortened but allowed to remain for the time being, as their presence will encourage extra girth of the trunk. Choose the height that you want the tree to begin branching and allow branches above that point to elongate.

If you would like me to suggest a branch to be the trunk, I must see photos of the full tree from several angles. The thickest branch may be the obvious choice, but not if it is excessively lop-sided.

To get a 'professionally' straight trunk, you would need to cut off all the branches and the allow one new stem from the base to be carefully staked and trained. You would want to do this at the end of winter just before new growth would begin. Realize that a commercial nursery would not start training a plant this old to be a standard, so even if you did attempt this route the end result might be somewhat different.

Yes, you are right, if this is a grafted plant, you should not allow suckers to grow from below the graft line.

I recommend choosing an informal trunk since the process will be easier, faster, and more likely to be successful. Besides that, trunks with some gnarls and curves are more attractive to look at anyway.
 
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Wow, thank you for thorough and speedy reply! This is the best photo I have right now I can get better angles or more if needed tomorrow as it’s already nightfall here on east coast. So the nice thing is that that thicker branch from first photo is the one that extends the straightest and furthest up at this time. Does that mean it has the best potential to be my “informal trunk” as you call it? Don’t need a ram rod straight just the best working with what I’ve got.
 
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Yes I think the tallest branch looks best too. It is good to look at a branch from more than one viewing angle, but you've already done that and if you think it looks good, then I'm sure it is.
 
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Yes I think the tallest branch looks best too. It is good to look at a branch from more than one viewing angle, but you've already done that and if you think it looks good, then I'm sure it is.
Thank you so much! A few more questions. Sooo I should not cut anything with loppers until mid winter? And does this look okay to you? And would I then stake it in spring or is that not necessary if I’m going with the informal rout.
 
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The timing for this type the pruning isn't that crucial, but I do think the beginning of the growing season is somewhat preferable.
Loppers or bypass secateurs should be fine for most of the branches I'm seeing, but I would use a pruning saw for the thickest ones. You don't want to leave too many stubs, but do cut those basal branches so that the cut will slope enough to shed water. Stake the the new trunk loosely if you feel that it is necessary due to wind or other hazards, but it appears to be growing almost straight up already. I usually prefer to use two stakes with flexible bands in-between, but there are multiple acceptable ways to stake trees.
 
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You are the man! You have given me the information and most importantly the confidence for this project. Thanks for your time. Cheers
 
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I think you will find you cannot kill a crepe root system. I also think you will find suckers grow from where you cut. I am fairly sure there are some grafting waxes that can help stop the new growth while protecting the cuts if you bury them. I also believe that rubber mulch ring needs to go away. they are water resistanr and increase temperature on roots. I realize that can be situational. They usually lose leaves in the winter so you can cut and train the bare shape sans leaves just like an old bonzai master.
 
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Here is my take on your points.

• I'm not sure why you mention the root system, but yes, there is no danger of killing it.
• I agree it is most likely that additional stems and suckers will come up from the base. They can be clipped off as they arise.
• It is standard practice to let pruning cuts heal without any topical compound including grafting wax .
• I agree with you that rubber mulches are a bad idea, though I doubt that water-permeable rubber mat would directly harm the tree. What I don't like about rubber products is they degrade and crumble and then you have rubber and plastic pollution in the soil.
• Pruning a crepe myrtle any time of the year is acceptable, though one normally doesn't cut off new growth in Spring before flowering.
• Winter is a fine time to prune. I do prefer it at the end of Winter when the coldest weather has passed and Spring growth is not far off.
 
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Here is my take on your points.

• I'm not sure why you mention the root system, but yes, there is no danger of killing it.
• I agree it is most likely that additional stems and suckers will come up from the base. They can be clipped off as they arise.
• It is standard practice to let pruning cuts heal without any topical compound including grafting wax .
• I agree with you that rubber mulches are a bad idea, though I doubt that water-permeable rubber mat would directly harm the tree. What I don't like about rubber products is they degrade and crumble and then you have rubber and plastic pollution in the soil.
• Pruning a crepe myrtle any time of the year is acceptable, though one normally doesn't cut off new growth in Spring before flowering.
• Winter is a fine time to prune. I do prefer it at the end of Winter when the coldest weather has passed and Spring growth is not far off.
I also believe that tree will become a single trunk, but that depends on the definition. Ours are single trunk up to about 6 ft and then they get crepey
 

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