Pruning Crepe Myrtles Without Committing Crepe Murder

Pruning Crepe Myrtles Without Committing Crepe Murder

It’s pretty easy to mentally lump all plants into one category as “green things that require pruning,” but the crepe myrtle is a horse of an entirely different color or if you prefer to be more accurate, a tree of a different color. The point is that pruning crepe myrtles aren’t the same as pruning most other plants, trees, or shrubs that may be scattered at carefully planned intervals and various points in your yard. And unless you learn to understand not only the basics of pruning but also how to care for crepe myrtle trees correctly, you’ll likely find yourself committing a crime called crepe murder.

Murdering Myrtle

Despite the eyebrow-arch-worthy oddity of its name, it actually is a thing. Residential landscaping services and professional gardeners know it well, a term coined simply for the fact that they see it with such frequency, as so many well-intentioned property owners pick up the pruning shears and go to town without knowing what to do or when to do it. The objective in pruning crepe myrtles is, of course, to get rid of some of the density and cut away anything that’s dead or dying. But all too often, people prune their crepe myrtles in the wrong season or cut far too much away. Done well, however, the act of pruning crepe myrtles yields a full, well-blooming tree with beautiful bark.

Just in case you need a visual, crepe murder causes the trees to turn into unsightly, stumpy messes and prevents them from forming smooth, mottled bark on their trunks. It also causes spindly sprouts to shoot out from the trunk, and those twiggy little branches bend weakly under the weight of flowers. Not a beautiful sight.

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Get a Killer M.O.

Realistically, your best bet is to hire a professional who’ll know how to prune everything, thereby solving the issue and preventing you from becoming a murderer of crepe myrtles and anything else that might require the attention of a green thumb. They’re full of the seeds of the knowledge needed for a healthy garden, blooming with experience and know-how on everything from when to prune to how much to prune.

But if you’re determined to DIY it and be a proactive pruner, you’ll need to have the right tools for the task:

  • Small pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • A pruning saw or pole pruner

Prune in late winter, when the crepe myrtle has lost all of its leaves, and the branches are fully visible. And do things in an orderly fashion, removing the “suckers” that come up from the base before anything else. Next, cut away all side branches that grow from the main trunks and have reached a height of four feet or more. From there, move on to the higher branches growing toward the center of the tree and then press onward to chop off any branches that cross, rub together, or look dead. If any leftover branches look a little unseemly, trim those away, as well. Once you’ve managed the mess, you’ll have a crepe myrtle that’s marvelously beautiful, not marvelously murdered.

For more information on crepe myrtle care, read this article from the University of Florida.

Keep murder off your record! Call the team of outside experts at Executive Landscaping, Inc., to schedule a consultation today!