It's Madness to Murder Crepe Myrtles

Crepe Myrtles are among the toughest, most adaptable, and showiest shrubs. A native of China and introduced to us in 1786 by Frenchman Andre Michaux, the "Lilac of the South" is the most popular flowering tree in the warmer, southern regions of North America. Crepe Myrtles are arguably one of the most beautifully branching flowering trees in the world, and would easily enhance the look of any home’s or business’ landscape.

As with any flowering plant, proper pruning will yield graceful shapes, strong stems and more blooms. Winter is a great time to prune a Crepe Myrtle, because it’s leafless and you can easily see all of the branches. It also blooms on new growth, so pruning now won’t reduce blooming. In fact, it may increase it.

Photo: Steve Bender

Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that properly pruning a Crepe Myrtle tree means completely topping off most of its branches. This improper practice – nicknamed “Crepe Murder” – actually damages and disfigures the tree. Topping causes profuse growth at the site of the pruning and encourages new growth that is too dense to allow air movement and light to reach the inner branches. Although topping may result in larger blooms, those flowers will grow on thinner, weaker branches that will droop and may even break.

Correctly pruned Crepe Myrtles have a beautiful vase-shaped form with smooth trunks and gently arching branches with bark in colors of lovely warm beige, cinnamon, or silver-gray. The beautiful bark and elegantly shaped tree trunk begins to lose its beauty and will even develop large, unsightly knobs once “murdered.”

Crepe Myrtles are a show-stopping addition to a landscape – so stop the madness of crepe murder! Call the professionals at The Grounds Guys to properly prune your trees and plants at your home or business.

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