Crape Myrtles are a beautiful staple of North central Florida landscaping. They are stunning trees with large bunches of bright flowers, and they can be seen all over Gainesville. Unfortunately, these poor plants are being brutalized left and right. Extreme, improper pruning techniques are causing these trees to be mutilated into unrecognizable stumps. This is known as Crape Murder. Here are five ways to avoid this egregious crime against nature, or salvage your Crape Myrtles that have suffered.
Tip # 1: Proper placement
When properly placed, Crape Myrtles can flourish with very little maintenance. When you choose the right cultivar and put it in a good location, you won’t have to contend with misshapen or overgrown Crape Myrtles. The first step to ensuring you aren’t brutalizing a Crape Myrtle is to make sure, with proper placement, that it doesn’t need pruning in the first place.
Tip #2: Stop topping
Don’t dismember your Crape Myrtle by hacking off the top in hopes that it will produce more blooms in the spring. Topping is the process of cutting the limbs down to a uniform height. This is a common mistake and results in the sad, dismembered Crape Myrtles you see far too often.
Tip #3: Less is more
A properly pruned Crape Myrtle shouldn’t look like it has been pruned at all. Any pieces you remove should be taken all the way back to the trunk, leaving no stump. Then new growth should be removed from the base, and from the main trunk up about four feet. Upper branches should only be pruned if they’re growing toward the inside of the tree, or if they are crossing and rubbing against each other.
Tip # 4: Think Small
Look for thin and poorly placed branches to prune. One problem with Crape Murder is that it causes the branches that grow back to be small and unable to support the weight of flowers once the plant blooms. Trim off the small shoots that are growing in an odd direction, or that won’t support the trademark large blooms of the Crape Myrtle.
Tip # 5: Cleaning up the crime scene
If your Crape Myrtles have been murdered, they aren’t a lost cause. It will take time and proper attention to restore them, but it is possible. You’ll need to choose the sturdiest shoots on the trunks and remove the rest, then continue to remove new growth for the next several seasons. After a few years, your Crape Myrtles will be as beautiful as ever.
To keep your Crape Myrtle healthy, happy, and blooming for years to come, follow these tips. If you’re dealing with Myrtle mutilation in your yard, contact the professionals at LawnMore to help get your Crape Murder victims back on track. They’ll help ensure that all of your plants receive proper pruning and trimming.