crepe myrtle time

Bumblebeez SC Zone 7March 4, 2003

The butchering of beautiful crepe myrtle's is going on all over my county. It just makes me infuriated to see this everywhere. In addition, in one prominent retail location, rounded, old, cloud nine dogwoods received the same "topping", to 4 foot trunks. I can only imagine that the landscapers thought they were also crepes ready for the slaughter. Banks, schools, along the highways, grocery stores, it's everywhere!

But it's happening in your area also, I'm sure.

I just must husband tells me he doesn't want to hear it anymore, it's all I can talk about when we go anywhere....although the beautiful Okame cherries are lovely right now....

But forsythia pruned into tight balls.....

mulch, the color of something a tree never was... ughh!

I could go on , but it's always the crepes the get me the most.

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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

Topping a dogwood to 4', unbelievable! Yes crepe murder is epidemic I'm afraid. What are they thinking?
I sure agree with you on the forsythia and red mulch and if I may add to the list; indica azaleas pruned into low hedges - that too is murder.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 5:34PM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Don't get me started on crepe murderers!! I had a lawn crew murder 4 of my crepe myrtles!! I had told them and told them, "Do NOT touch the crepe myrtles." So what did they do? Cut them in HALF! This happened a year ago, and I'm still mad about it. One of the crepe myrtles was 10 years old, 18 feet tall. The branches were almost the size of my arm. And they cut them in HALF. They had NEVER been butchered before!

I finally cut down the 3 smaller crepe myrtles to the ground this year so I can start them over. I started to cut down my big crepe myrtle, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm going to first see how the other three grow back so I'll have a better idea of what to expect. I'm sure I'll have to reshape each tree as it grows back to ensure good balance in the trunks.

This still makes me so mad. How can anyone cut down such beautiful trees!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Visit my website!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 9:17PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

That is amazing, Vicki! What did they say when you confronted them? I always wonder WHAT (if anything) is going through these people's mind to cut a tree in half?
I think you probably will have to cut the big tree down, it will never have a good shape otherwise.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 7:51AM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Bumblebeez, I didn't give them time to say anything. I saw them butchering one of the crepe myrtles through my window, and ran out in complete shock and horror to stop them. I asked the guy for his boss, but the worker looked at me as if he had no idea what I was saying. He claimed to not speak English, but he could figure out what I was saying by the way I said it. I was very mad and ordered him off my property immediately. I told him he was fired and to never step foot on my yard again.

Then, as I was picking up the branches off the ground and assessing the damage, I saw more branches on the ground around the corner. My heart sank. That's where my big crepe myrtle was located. As I walked over to that area, sure enough, my fears were realized as I saw the huge branches all over the place, my big crepe myrtle destroyed with their ladder still standing next to it. While my reaction was probably not the most lady like, I was so mad, I took their ladder and threw it onto the street.

I heard back from another lawn crew that the owner of the crew that butchered my crepe myrtles never understood why I was so upset at what they had done. Those who butcher crepe myrtles just don't understand what they are doing. :-(

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 9:15AM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Here are some pictures of the results of butchering a crepe myrtle.

This first picture shows what the crepe myrtle looked like a year before it was destroyed. I had placed my daughter in the picture to show the size of the crepe myrtle. That picture was taken on April 13, 2001. The crepe myrtle was just coming out of dormancy, but not yet ready to start blooming.

The second picture is what it looked like one year later after being butchered. It was taken on May 7, 2002.

This is what a butchered crepe myrtle looks like. Why would anyone want this in their yard?

Here's the unnatural branching caused by crepe myrtle butchering.

And this is what a crepe myrtle's branching looks like when you allow it to grow naturally with only selective pruning. The branching is so beautiful and graceful!! Thank goodness I stopped the crepe myrtle murderers before they got their hands on this one.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 9:52AM
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Just ride around Wilmington NC, and you'll see butchered Crepes EVERYWHERE. Why don't municipalities hire people who have just a little knowledge, or at least train them? But what's worse to me is what I saw when I went to visit my parents last week. The man who keeps my mother's yard up had just been there. Not only is her Forsythia in a ball, BUT HE JUST PRUNED THE AZALEAS INTO TIGHT BLOBS! She'll be lucky to have 5 blooms on each one. I was so mad I got into an argument with her, strongly advocating stopping payment on the check. He got paid $120 for these atrocities!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2003 at 8:34AM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

Vicki, Your photos are some of the best I have seen as examples of bad pruning. I have printed them out and showed them to neighbors who use these (apparently)ignorant landscapers.
With all the publicity this problem gets - every southern newspaper has an article every spring - I don't understand why it continues.
I just used plain paper to print your photos and they came out plenty clear enough to make the point.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2003 at 9:20AM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Oh, jan7b, what a horrible thing to have happen to your parents' bushes!! How could anyone do that? I'd be furious too. I've seen people prune bridal wreath spirea in a tight ball. Everytime I see that, I can't help but wonder what were the people thinking when they did that?

Datawgal, you are more than welcome to print off those pictures and show anyone who you can get to listen. If it can help save at least one crepe myrtle from being butchered, then it will be worth it.

I think a lot of people butcher their crepe myrtles because they know crepe myrtles bloom on new growth. But what they fail to comprehend is that a crepe myrtle has new growth every year no matter what you do. You don't have to cut them to get them to grow!

Even moreso.. by not butchering the crepe myrtle, it will develop into a beautiful tree with a large canopy. Each branch will put on new growth and bloom. So instead of having 10 butchered branches growing 3 suckers that bloom, you can end up with 100s of beautiful branches, all blooming!! A fully mature crepe myrtle that has never been butchered is a sight to behold when it's in full bloom. Nothing can compare!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2003 at 7:35PM
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BarbC(8 coastal SC)

I only prune mine very minimally for shape (say, a stray branch that grows the wrong way or something...) and I cut off the old seed pods that I can reach. That's it. I have blooms on the white one that are as big as my head or bigger. They are really heavy and pull the branches over into the most gorgeous "weeping" canopy of blooms you've ever seen. My neighbor has the same one and butchers it and can't figure out why mine has lots of huge blooms and his has sparse tiny ones, why his grows straight up and mine fans out like an unbrella. I have tried and tried to explain it to him, but he just doesn't get it, and probably never will. And even if he did, its probably too late to ever get any natural shape to it anyway. Oh well. Makes my yard look better. Let him do what he wants.

Now, the bushy purple one... I do prune it moderately (maybe 1/3) about every couple of years for size, nothing else. When I first got it, it was very scraggly and I cut it almost to the ground and let it grow back from there... but its a bush, not a tree, and it forced it to fill in beautifully. No regrets on it at all. It stands about 6' wide and 6' tall and is perfect for its space.

Of course, I am the one who "defies" the "rules" and fertilize mine with handfulls of high-nitrogen fertilizer every spring when I do the yard (which I am also told does not like high-nitrogen, yet it also thrives on it).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2003 at 1:52AM
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missymrtn_socal(southern CA)

Hi, I stumbled upon this thread looking for information about my crepe myrtle. Can anyone spare a little advice??

Am I supposed to prune off those little seed balls at the ends of the branches? This is a very young tree (the Nantchez variety, I believe), and it was planted just last October. It's about six feet tall, and just beginning to leaf out.

Thanks for any help!


    Bookmark   March 26, 2003 at 8:10PM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Melissa, you can prune off the seed heads if you want, but it's not necessary. The crepe myrtle will shed the seed heads just as nature intended. I have never found them to be messy, and the birds love them!

Every now and then, you might get a volunteer crepe myrtle which you can either pull up or transplant and allow to grow. I have one crepe myrtle that was a volunteer which ended up with the most beautiful flowers. It's a deep pink with a white boarder! And it's a dwarf size which is perfect (I have red dwarfs so this seedling must have come from them).

It's best to keep your pruning just for shaping purposes. Prune your crepe myrtle exactly like you would any other tree. Prune out damage and cross branches, prune out wayward growth, and prune to lift the canopy and/or to improve overall symmetry. Otherwise, NO pruning is needed. Absolutely do not cut the branches down to nubs like so many people do. Crepe myrtles do not require this in order to bloom. Each year as the tree grows, the canopy of flowers increase.

BTW, Nantchez is a wonderful variety. I'm sure you will adore it! :-)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2003 at 12:34AM
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missymrtn_socal(southern CA)

Thank you so much for the information, vickishome. I really appreciate it.
This is the first tree that I've ever planted, so I'm still learning...obviously!

I gathered from reading the previous posts that I shouldn't prune it severely...or risk the wrath of more experienced gardeners!
I honestly was afraid that it was dead until the little green leaves began peeking out this week.

I think that I will leave the seeds alone, as the tree seems to be doing fine on it's own.

I picked the Nantchez because photos of the fall foliage were so beautiful! We don't have too much of that here in Southern California.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2003 at 1:23AM
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We have a local nursery owner who has a Saturday morning talk show on the radio here. He goes absolutely ballistic this time of year with the "crape murderers." So sad to see them chopped down when they're so beautiful if let alone. I've referred to the victims as "herbaceous poodles," as they become these twiggy, leggy, things with "poufs" on top after the murderers get ahold of them.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 6:52AM
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I agree about crepe murder. It's awful. And the trees end up so weak they can't hold up their flowers! Last year a lot of trees around here had their trunks tied together because of that, and yet they got lopped back again this year. They look like a very arthritic person's hands, all gnarled and knotty.

I am glad to say I have never seen dogwoods butchered. I think that might bother me even more than crepe murder does! Dogwoods have such a beautiful natural branching pattern, why would someone do that???

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 5:22PM
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Kathy Bochonko

I also have a Natchez planted in October. I moved to the Atlanta area from Illinois at that time, and have been doing my homework and found out right away about "Crepe murder." I am terrified however because this tree is dead center of a bed that is half on my property, half on my neighbors'. The builder created it to camoflouge some unsightly manhole covers. Anyway, I am so afraid that some day I may have a neighbor who does mine in. Luckily my current neighbor has a brown thumb and is thrilled to leave the whole thing under my care. My question is this-- the tree is currently very scrawny with only two main trunks and then no branches until about 4 feet high, should I do anything now while it is young? The trunks are still only 1- 1 1/2" in diameter.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 5:36PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Kathy, Leave it alone. Give it time to mature and do nothing but remove suckers from the bottom if you don't want more trunks. But I also like several trunks.
You could also try to subtley educate your neighbor.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 7:01PM
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Kathy Bochonko


I actually think it should have more trunks as all the others I see have 4 or more, so is mine going to look funny with only two, is there even anything I can do? Will it naturally produce more trunks later? I am clueless.

Educating my neighbor is pointless since she will never touch anything in the bed, she is still struggling to keep pots alive on her porch. I am worried because she is talking like they will only live there 3-5 years before her husband gets transferred again. So just when the tree starts to grow up and look good will be when I will most likely have a problem. I guess I should stick to worrying about my current problems and not the ones 3-5 years away. ;)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2003 at 8:53AM
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rockysox(N.E. Volusia 9a)

Vicki, why didn't you sue the butchers? You should have made them replace your trees with new ones of comparable size to the originals.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2003 at 3:27PM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Rockysox, suing wouldn't have brought my crepe myrtles back. Besides, we're talking yard men. They don't have anything to sue over.

Plus, they couldn't replace 3 of the trees. Two were unnamed dwarfs. They were some of the first plants I bought for my yard when we moved in. One crepe myrtle was a baby from the dwarfs that I grew from seed. It ended up being about 6' - 7' tall with the most beautiful and unusual flower that was deep pink with a white border! You can't buy that anywhere. The big crepe myrtle was a named variety, but what's the use. The damage was already done.

I still miss my crepe myrtles. By now, they would have begun to leaf out. The dwarfs leaf out with a beautiful red color which just glows when the sun shines through the leaves in the morning.

So far, all 3 that I cut down to the ground are sprouting back up. They just have 1/2" to 1" sprouts right now. It'll be fun (not) working to get these back to some sort of symmetrical form so I don't end up with 10 trunks all in one place. I'm also afraid that this will cause problems with and endless stream of suckers from the base as I can't possibly allow every sprout to grow (too many of them). What a mess. Stupid, stupid, stupid yard men who can't or won't listen to instructions. Just how hard is it to NOT touch something!

And to pour salt on the wound, I finally dug up and threw away my star magnolia that they kept shearing like a shrub. It's a TREE! It's a TREE! Don't touch it! Don't cut it! Lotta good that did. I should have fired them the moment they made the first wrong cut. This is what I get for trying to be nice and understanding.

But to not leave this on a bad note... I have been growing a volunteer yaupon holly for 10 years, and in all that time, it never made any berries. I had resigned myself that it was a male yaupon which would never flower or berry. Well guess what. I was walking in my garden, and I heard bees buzzing. I looked up, and the yaupon is blooming!! There's flowers everywhere! What a surprise!! I'll get berries this year!! So not all is bad. There's some good stuff to enjoy.

Oh, and I will be getting a new star magnolia next Spring to replace the old one. That'll be good too. :-)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2003 at 1:37AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Kathy, you will most likly get new growth at the base of the plant. Just let them grow, and it will look straggly and unkempt for a while, but select several and prune those into trunks. When you do get a new neighbor, you can explain why the tree shouldn't be pruned and how you have been maintaining it and will continue to do so. And you can just tell the new neighbor to not do anything to the tree. Show photos of the right and wrong method. I understand why you're concerned. But you just might get a wonderful gardening neighbor to!

If you do not get any new growth at the base, next year in Feb. cut one of the trunks to the ground. This will produce a lot of new growth at the base to train into multi trunks. Generally, however, removing suckers from the base is part of regular maintenance, so you shouldn't have to cut a trunk down.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2003 at 8:16AM
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Kathy Bochonko

Thanks bunblebeez.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2003 at 9:45AM
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Being a Crepe Myrtle "Newbie" I am concerned. I have a 10-12 foot Myrtle off of my deck in my backyard. Harsh winter conditions, massive amounts of snow may have taken it's toll on this tree. It's 4/21 in MD and I show no signs what so ever of new growth. Is this normal? I just moved in last summer and I don't know this tree's cycle. Please any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2003 at 1:50PM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Watch for signs of life on the other crepe myrtles around you. Once they're growing, look to see if your's is doing anything. You can also scrape a little of the bark off of a branch or the trunk to see if it's green or brown underneath. If it's green, it's alive and will do fine. If it's brown (or waaaaay too hard to scratch), then that particular branch may have died. Even if some branches have died, some may still be alive.

If the worst happens and the entire tree has died. then don't give up yet. Crepe myrtles can and will grow back from the roots. In fact, the crepe myrtle I showed in a post earlier () froze back one year. Only one trunk survived the freeze. I figured that I'd just grow it as a single-trunk tree. Next thing I knew, the crepe myrtle put out more branches from the base to make up for the ones that had frozen off. Now you can't tell that anything happened! I can tell because I know to look for the one trunk that's a little bit thicker than the rest.

It's very hard to kill a crepe myrtle so don't give up hope. It will most likely do fine even if it got frozen to the ground.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2003 at 8:38PM
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Honeyg(8 TX)

Very interesting and informative forum to read about Crepe Myrtles - probably learned more about pruning here than any other book.
Now, my situation - I planted about 15 Myrtles around my windows on the south and east side of the house just a week ago (mid April), 9 are white (about 3-4 feet high) and 6 are red (about 18inches high), I think both varieties are dwarf. I find it difficult to find out exactly what kind of myrtles you are buying sometimes, as nursery does know either. The pupose of these myrltes is to provide a nice view from inside of house, and prevent the texas hot sun entering the windows. So, we want them to grow about 5-7 feet with flowering at the window height - so I guess it would be like someone mentioned a "flowering broccoli". Which I don't necessarily mind as long as it does not look too ugly in winter. However, I certainly don't want these to look as "gnarled, knuckled hands with rheumatoid arthritis" as a result of constant pruning. I want to have the beuty of Crepe myrtles as 40% bark, 40% flowers, and 20% fall color.

How should I prune them starting now? I to a ceratin extent believe that if you carefully prune young trees to get the branch structure you want, you don't have to get extreme later. So, after planting them, I pruned the white myrtles to about 3-4 feet high and kept only 4-6 trunks. All of them are currently about pencil size trunks. Did I do the right thing? what can I do different?

Thank you for your help and advice.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2003 at 2:55PM
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chandu(z8 SC Irmo)

Forgive the lurking newbie.
We are transplant from Cleveland (brrrr). Fell in love with the tree (@ first sight) and decided to invite them in our yard. We have 3 crepe myrtles, 6 years old, 2 are 10-12 feet tall the third one is about 7-8 feet. NEVER PRUNED. 2 taller ones have flowered (red) profusely for the last 5 years, this year the blooms were very few and sparse (few flowers per blooming head). The 3rd one stayed without flowers (and developed rather slowly) for first 4 years (!) and then decided to send out very deep red long lived flowers, also this tree retains it's leaves (bigger and shinier than the other two) for much longer than the other two trees (average of 4 weeks more). Is this a normal behaviour (occasionally not flowering etc.) among crepe myrtles?
I have discovered that Japanese Beetles love crepe myrtle leaves :(. I have been using sevin (sparingly -in the begining of the season) followed by beetle traps and have achieved reasonable success -compared to others in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 9:04AM
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The reason they do this is simple, it's called money. Most homeowners have no idea what their trees need/don't need. The "landscape/yard maintenance people" take advantage of the situation to create work, and income.

I won't even get into the city/commercial arena, this is enough to make anyone sick. Suffice to say, butchering trees (almost any kind) in my area is BIG business.
It's a slow death that eventually requires a new tree to be planted...and more $$$$$ for the landscape companies!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2003 at 12:26PM
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bull_dog805(Salisbury, MD)

vickyshome... while I understand that you were angry about your trees.. I do not understand the refference to "yard men". I myself am a yardman and while I don't cut trees in that manner, I do understand one thing, and that is, that the customer pays their salary. I still wouldn't do it myself, because I can afford to walk away. Not all yard men are ignorant, broke, uneducated slobs. And not all of us are out to rip the customer off either. Just my 2cents.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2004 at 7:22PM
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LoraxDave(z7B Alabama)

Todd, Crape Myrtles are late to leaf out in the Spring. It may still be a little early in Maryland. Mine started leafing out in March this year down here, but that was fairly unusual and due to a mild late Winter and Spring.

If they don't leaf out, they will almost certainly resprout from the ground.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 9:43AM
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dlhl(z6 TN)

I have a crepe myrtle which I set out abotu 2 years ago. It is not about 4 or 1/2 ft tall. I want to eventually create a bed around it with some small shrubs and/or perennials. My question is - do I need to trim the lower branches to train it to become a tall tree, or just leave it alone?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 12:54PM
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Oh, dear. Just read through this thread. I have lovely big crepe myrtles, and have often thought about chopping the tops to lower them a bit, but NOT NOW!! =0 Putting that thought right OUT of my mind 4ever!

;-) Kathleen in N. TX

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 7:01PM
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I am thinking of planting a privacy hedge using crepe myrtle. I think these would make a beautiful hedge. Landscapers have warned me that crepe myrtles do not grow well together because they "scald" each other where they touch. Has anyone had a problem with this?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2004 at 6:13PM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

Hoilman, for a hedge, choose a dwarf variety suited to the height you want your hedge, then plant them at the distance which will allow them to grow to maturity without growing together. Or you can use the larger crepes as the top of the hedge and underplant them with viburnum, azalea, etc., to screen the lower area. In this way you'l get a spring bloom from the viburnum, azalea, etc., and a summer bloom from the crepes and a nice splash of color in the fall when the leaves turn.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2004 at 11:40AM
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bbnomad69(5b La)

I have a customer that wishes for me to cut/prune four crepe myrtle trees in front of their house. thes trees are mature over twenty feet high which is the problem they are interfering with phone and cable lines. They want them to look full, I am not going to murder them, so that is my question?
how much? whether to top them? where to prune them so as not to make the trees look bad, also when should they be cut they have stopped blooming as it is october . any info is greatly appreciated email me if you will. thanks great site

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 6:02PM
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Starr1985(7b N GA)

Hello. I just signed on to the forum. We purchased our home back in the summer, and there are 2 crepe myrtles in the back yard. They are (were) huge, and look like the bad examples that Vicki posted. I had heard of 'crepe murder", but had been advised by a local horticulturist that when they look like this, the only thing you can do is to cut them off, which I did. I do not plan to ever do it again. The trees nearly died last summer, never bloomed, were covered with japanese beetles and fungus or mold. I have also purchased some tree spikes. Can anyone advise me on what I should do next? I hope these trees survive. The owner told me they have purple blooms (I never saw any blooms, but I love purple!)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 4:50PM
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Crapes leaf out late, especially if in shade. They like warm weather to leaf and warmer weather to bloom. Odd numbers of trunks look better than even numbers. (It's weird, but true.) Crapes can be pruned severely if pruned correctly. Prune crossover branches or branches from "side trunks" that grow toward center of tree. The trick is to always prune so that the tree has an uplifted branch left on each trunk or main branch. That will prevent the "blunt end" or "bare knuckle". (Leave at least one "finger" for the "knuckle" and it won't be bare.) If you follow me, you see that you cannot prune correctly and prune significantly against height. If the variety grows too tall, it should be moved. They grow fast, so dwarf varieties may fit some spots best. Pruning actually helps, removing weak growth and promoting fewer, stronger branches, which will prevent wind and snow damage.
Starr, your plants may recover, but I question if root wasn't hurt permanently and you will never get tree as healthy again. When it comes back, if it looks bad, consider taking a cutting and rooting it into new tree. Also keep a look out for baby trees near the base that can be moved to grow into main tree. Liquid sevin will help against japanese beetles - I'm not big into using pesticides, but it is called for with a sick tree. They don't bother healthy trees as much.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 6:14AM
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Annette Holbrook

Dh and I just pruned ours. It was fairly amusing since we are trying to just trim off the leftover blooms and any damaged stuff. Both of us telling the other to be careful, don't do that, watch that branch.....Hopefully we will get a nice shape doing this.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 1:27PM
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Hello, I'm new to the forum. I have a crepe myrtle question or three. I have this crepe myrtle that never seems to get very tall, it just seems to grow out. From reading this thread, that is either because it is a dwarf or because it doesn't get a lot of light. Anyway, I have trimmed it the last couple of years taking off the thin branches in hopes the strong ones getting stronger and taller. It seems my efforts have been futile. I leave two main "trunks" but they seem to have awkward shaping to them contributing to the branches growing towards the house and out instead of up. Most of the branches that grow out get heavy and lean over. I guess my main question is, should I trim it back all the way to the ground and start over so I can shape it somehow? And if so, how do I shape it? Is the lack of light going to always make it this way? Thank you for any help. I hope my pics work.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 10:31AM
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rivers1202(Z8a South Carolina)

JKLo~ I am definitely NOT a Crepe Myrtle expert, but I think your CM is planted way too close to your home. It looks to be growing out, from beneath the shade of your roof overhang, trying to get more sun. Also, I wouldn't think that Crepes are an appropriate tree to grow so close to the foundation of a home...they need more space to spread out. You'll be pruning that tree forever if it stays where it is.
I have a Crepe in my backyard which was planted by the former owners of our home. They planted it between 2 fruit trees and the poor thing leans out, just as yours does, trying to get more sun. I was told it'd probably never look "right" unless I pruned it back nearly to the ground and moved it elsewhere. We've already pruned it and are planning on moving it tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 11:13AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I'd like to think that in two years since this thread started more people would know by now how to prune their crepe myrtles. But no. Up and down my street, huge old crepes have been pruned to 4' high.

And I still don't know exactly how to shape a Hopi crepe myrtle!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 10:04PM
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Kristin_1902(z8 AL)

We have huge crepe myrtles in the yard at our 103-year-old house. Some have been topped, and they look just pitiful with these huge trunks at the bottom and spindly little limbs growing around them.

Here is one that I think might've been topped a long time ago, but it has grown very big since. We need to prune some of the outward-growing branches on all of them, and now I know how thanks to this forum!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2005 at 4:55PM
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I know this crape myrtle thing is a huge issue right now, but I think it's only political correctness.

I am a Master Gardener, and I HATE how people mulch their trees halfway up, pour chemicals all over their lawns, and put their grass clippings onto the street. Utter insanity.

But I have no problem with crape myrtle pruning, because you can't kill the things no matter what you do. I might be alone in not particularly liking crape myrtles. They aren't natives, and every one of my neighbors has a crape myrtle and a Bradford pear. Enough already! I inherited several of the little darlings when we moved into this house, and I tried to remove two of them, without much luck. Repeated applications of Roundup to the new sprouts coming from the stumps might eventually do the trick, but who knows?

I came from England, where trees are routinely cut back harshly and suffer no ill effects at all. I see crape myrtle as a weed in this area, and I kind of like how it looks when it blooms after having been cut back harshly.

I think we certainly must speak out against horrendous gardening practices (most of which persist simply because "that's how my daddy did it"), but this is not one of them IMO. We sure do need to get rid of that bright red mulch and we need to get the word out about watering lawns at all, much less at noon.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 6:13AM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

Nopastels, I completely agree with you about a lot of what you say. Especially about overwatering lawns during drought. I NEVER water my lawn (unless you count the few times I have put a sprinkler out for the kids) and while it does get brown during droughts, it comes back fine every year. I also understand your distaste for Crepe Myrtles. They are very overused but I do really like them. Now the Bradford pears... arggggh. I would really like to see them go. the old ones split in half and the new ones reseed so that they are becoming an invasive threat. Plus they smell bad when they bloom. Yuck! But to me the point is (like them or not) Crepes and other bushes/trees just look better if left unpruned or pruned judiciously. I hate the knobby knuckled look as compared to the more graceful form they naturally take. And please spare the poor azaleas. they are NOT boxwoods. there are better ways to create order in the garden... -Ais.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 8:38PM
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diamonds5ga(z8 Mid GA)

Hi, I stumbled on to this forum today while researching for ways to get rid of wisteria. I had to become a member! My experience with crepe myrtle murder started when I moved from CA to GA in 98 due to a job transfer. I moved into my house in Jul and hired a person to mow my lawn and trim the trees and hedges. There were 20 crepe myrtles in my yard and many were nice size. The yard work was done while I was at work. When I came home I about died on the spot. He had cut all my crepe myrtles down to an average of 4'. I had stumps all over my yard! It was just awful. Since then I do my own yard work. My only do minor trimming on the mrytles. Fortunately, they all grew back and bloom beautifully. My neighbor swears by nubbing her myrtles, she says they grow stronger that way. Mine are doing just fine without being nubbed. Another neighbor across the street moved here from CA also and they don't nub their mrytles either. Maybe between the two of us we'll eventually get our neighbor to see her evil ways and leave the mrytles alone.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 10:50AM
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bamacrazy(8b Mobile, AL)

I need to repair ill advised pruning on my crepe myrtles. If I need to start over, how close to the ground should I cut them? When should I cut them?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 12:44PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Vicky, I don't understand one thing - why you hired other people to take care of plants you love and know a lot about. I wouldn't think about letting someone else take care of all these plants I have educated myself about and have given such care. You had time to learn, but not do the yard work? Is that the deal? Just wondering...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 10:27PM
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I have 2 crepe myrtle trees against my house that get the hottest sun of the day 4:00 and on. I have had these for 25 years. The last two years their leaves are sticky and wierd looking. Some have black dots. They just plain look icky. I have never had this problem. Please help. I was going to root them up but my husband likes them because they create shade for the wall of the house they are against. Thank you

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 12:26AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

THey might have mildew, one of mine had that one year. You could try spraying with a fungicide.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 6:31AM
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I have a house in SC that came with two crepe myrtles that have been grown as single trunks to the height of about 4-5 feet. There is a rounded nob on the top of the trunk, and nothing else. An arborist explained that they were grown that way on purpose, and that they would need to be pruned back to the knob every year. I have not seen them during the growing season, so I only have this vision of thin stump sticking up out of the ground, and I think it looks really pathetic (the arborist really liked that style). I had figured on having both trees removed once I moved in, but it sounds like there might be a chance that I could cut them to the ground and let them resprout. Is that true? I like crepe myrtles grown with mutiple trunks as well as the single trunk style.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 11:19AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

You might as well try cutting the ugly single trunks down and see if they grow back as nice multi-trunk trees. Chances are that they will sprout -- CMs generally do -- but if they don't, you can dig 'em up then. What have you got to lose?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 10:34PM
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Heres some pics of crepe myrtles that are pruned wrong(see link below)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruned Poorly

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 11:18PM
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Heres some pics of crepe myrtles that are pruned the right way(see link below)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruned Correctly

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 11:21PM
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For anyone who has crape myrtles (not crepe) which have been mutilated by improper pruning/butchering, the time to cut them to the ground and start over is when they are leafing out in the spring or shortly before. It's too late for this year. The new growth will be somewhat tender, and if this coming winter is harsh, it could kill the new growth. They would come back AGAIN from the roots in the spring, but it's best not to take that chance.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 11:55PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Those pictures of pruned crepe mytles in the above link don't seem correct to me. They still look butchered on the top.
And there is evidence of previous incorrect pruning as shown in the gnarled knuckles of the second photograph.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 10:09AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I know what you mean bumble, but have you seen CMs that are so pruned that they have no branching at all? Just the knobs? The ones in the picture at least have some branches. Perhaps they were badly pruned in the past and that is why they have knobs.

Speaking of CMs.. I have 3 of 4 that have no blooms or even buds. What could have happened???

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 10:21AM
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Ok..i just recently moved into a house that has one crepe myrtle in the front yard. I have no experience with CM's, but i think that this one may have been pruned incorrectly. There are about 3 main branches that are 3 to 4 inches thick...but no interspersed branching. I think that is why there weren't many flowers on it this year. The new growth came out of the 3 main branches and it wasn't very pretty..very very knobby..and i thought if i let the new growth of the little sprouts at the bottom grow that it might help. But after reading..i wonder if i should do something else like cut the whole thing to the ground and let it start over?...i just don't want to screw up on this tree that is obviously an older tree ( due to the size of the main branches) just curious what to do when crepe myrtles go wrong.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 4:09PM
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gardenlady22(zone7 Ala,USA)

Bumble, I'm fighting against a man here at work that wants to cut back what he considers bushes and I know are trees. How can a twenty foot tall tree be a bush? There are six groupings of trees, each with six or more main trunks, measuring bigger than my thigh and he wants to cut them back. Why- He bumps his head on the blooms when their in full bloom. These are a gorgeous white and looks like plumes in the air when they bloom. How do I educate this boob!? Is there some web site that shows the different types of crepes ,tree, shrub, dwarf and so on so I can show him that all are not created equal? Its getting serious here what with Spring coming and a whole gang of tree murders being hired to come do the lopping off as they term it. I printed the pictures out that show the correct way to prune them back, but I don't know if I'll be talking to myself or if it'll sink in what he wants to do is a bad bad thing.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 11:13AM
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treedude(z7 SC)

The National Arboretum has a great website listing many of the crepe myrtle cultivars.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crepe Myrtle Checklist

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 6:41PM
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Please don't kill me...but what, if any, is the proper procedure for pruning crepe myrtle? When is the best time?

Thanks, warren

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 3:04PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Warren, the best time is when the trees are dormant- after they lose their leaves and it's fall/winter or early spring.
Some crepes are more prone to sucker and those branches coming from the base can be removed at anytime. During the summer, if a second bloom is wanted, finished panicles may be removed without problems. I frequently prune my Hopi back in August and get a second flush.

Dead and unwanted branches may be removed at anytime but they harden off better if pruned during the dormant season.

Some crepes bloom better with some tip pruning. And removing the dried seed pods never hurts. I have some crepes which need no pruning at all and they bloom profusely while others do better with a foot or so taken off the ends each year.

I have one bush I have decided I don't mind cutting in half each year. It is a rounded shrub shape, definitely not tree like, and I prefer kepping it rounded and small (under 6') instead of thinning and limbing up. I may cut it back to the the ground this year.

The only real hard and fast rule is don't cut a tree in half!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 6:48PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I forgot to add that shaping and pruning really should be done right before spring. If you prune in December, for instance, you run the risk that a warm spell will promote new growth which will then freeze off later. That's why February is the pruning month for lots of plants, at least in the South. Not enough time for shoots to emerge and freeze. It could happen, of course, but probably won't.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 9:57AM
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question, My father (who is garden handicapped) cut my mother's prized Crepe. This plant was planted in 1989, and had huge trunks ( big enough that I had to put both my hands around them to encirle them). He lopped the plant down to maybe 1' off the ground. The poor thing survived. Let me tell you my mom was not pleased at all. Anyway, now they have started that 'deformed' growing habit. I told my mom that I would take care of them from now on (they live 5 min. down the road) becuse I know how to prune them (I am growing my own). Since the tree will never become the beauty it once was, is it worth keeping? I hate digging up plants, especially those that live despite the atrocious care they have recieved... but, my mom wanted one of those beautiful cannopied Crepes... and now it will be hard to achieve. They have lots of seedlings that could take their place. I can't believe my dad did that... the only thing he does right is go to the office ^_^... I think he cut them the summer I moved out. The big reason for removing is the plant went from a 3' wide trunk with an 10' wide cannopy to a 10' tall deformed thing that is now 12' wide... the new groth is hitting the cars and scratching them. They look horrible... they make you want to close you eyes and imagine what they once were. So, remove them.... or take years to prune them the right way???

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 10:53AM
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vickishome(Zone 9a Houston)

Wow! I am absolutely amazed to see this thread is still active! I'm the poster who's lawn men butchered 4 of my crepe myrtles (aka crape myrtles) in 2002 (see above in this thread). I ended up cutting 3 of them down to the ground, but could never make myself cut the large one down completely. Besides, large crape myrtle branches are very hard to cut, and I don't think I could have physically cut that large crape myrtle down to the ground all by myself.

So here are the results of my butchered crape myrtles from 2002 to now:

The 3 smaller, dwarf crape myrtles that I cut down to the ground resprouted beautifully. The two original dwarfs really didn't need any help in growing back to a natural shape.

However, the "baby" I planted that had sprouted from those dwarfs did need some help while growing back. The main problem was that this particular crape myrtle grew back much faster than the dwarfs which caused the branches to have a strong tendency to flop over. To help this crape myrtle regain it's proper structure, I had to put 4 stakes around the crape myrtle with soft ties encircling it. This way, the crape myrtle branches weren't exactly staked up, but they were prevented from falling over, especially when it rained.

I still have those stakes in place; however, I can probably remove them by now. I believe the new main branches are now strong enough to hold the top growth upright on their own. But I think I'll take the protection down in stages with the top ties encircling it being removed first, and if all goes well, I can then begin removing the other ties, one by one, from top to bottom, until I can be certain the tree can hold itself upright without assistance.

The 4th, and largest, crape myrtle grew back from the stumps left by the butchering. I spent endless hours actually using a variety of tools, including a wood rasp and planer, to try to smooth off those horrible looking stumps so the new growth would look more natural. I also thinned out the new growth so it wasn't so obviously unnatural - meaning if 4 new branches grew back, I would remove all except 1 or 2 of those branches, saving only those that gave the tree the most natural appearance possible. This work was unbelievable difficult, time consuming, and downright physically hard to do. The crape myrtle wood is so hard, especially the dead stumps at the top, that it is one of the most difficult plants I have ever had to shape. As a result, I did not manage to reshape all of the butchered branches. I got a lot of them, but some of them just ended up growing as they were.

Now that a few years have gone by, it is still painfully obvious that the crape myrtle had been butchered, but it's not as bad as it was at first. Thinning and reshaping the new growth helped a lot. Those branches are now growing so that the size difference between the old branches and the new ones aren't so obviously different as before, and the horrendous knots now look like twisted growth. However, it's still very obvious when the tree has a relatively straight growth with natural forking in the branches, then this twisted growth and branching, and then natural straight growth and branching again. So no matter how hard I tried, the butchering is still painfully obvious.

One other problem I have encountered is that my yard has a lot more shade than it did when I originally planted the crape myrtles. This affects the large crape myrtle the most. Back when it was originally planted, it was able to grow tall enough amongst the other trees to create it's own place in the overall canopy in my yard. However, being cut back like it was, it then had to fight with the taller trees for sunlight and canopy space. Some of the trees close by grew into the space where the crape myrtle used to be, leaving the crape myrtle to end up being thinner than it originally was. It's hard to explain. I haven't taken any pictures, but to try to graphically explain, it's like having this: WvW instead of this: WWW (where the crape myrtle is the middle letter). In other words, the two trees in close proximity to the crape myrtle have now grown tall enough to cast a shadow over the sides of the crape myrtle, causing the crape myrtle to be unable to grow as full as it used to be. Back when I had planted it all, the crape myrtle was taller which caused the two surrounding trees to be shaded, forcing them to give the crape myrtle it's canopy space. Does that make any sense?

So all in all, while I've done my best to correct the butchering from those yard men, the results were 2 dwarfs did great, 1 volunteer dwarf will be okay, but needed assistance in growing back, and the large crape myrtle will never be the same no matter what I do.

If you want to reshape a butchered crape myrtle, cut it down to the ground while dormant around late Jan to early Feb, and then do whatever you must do to help it regrow into a natural form. If you don't cut it down, the tree will never be the same no matter what you do.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 11:44AM
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I know nobody has been on this post for awhile, but if I bump it, maybe someone can answer a question for me...

I have two crepe myrtle shrubs that I bought from a nursery and planted the first of February. They were in 15 gallon containers and they were VERY tall for the containers, about 10 feet tall. The growers did something weird to them, because there aren't very many branches 'branching out', just mostly lots of sticks growing straight up from the rootball. In order to encourage branching, I clipped the tops down about 2 feet (I didn't commit crepe murder, more like crepe assault!).
I live in Zone 8 which means that by now, it is 80+ in my area. The problem is: my crepe myrtles aren't hardly leafing out! They're not dead, each shrub has a little bit of live leaf growth on it, but very little! The growth that is already there is healthy and green, but it's not actively growing.
I've checked the soil around them, its not soggy but I am keeping it damp. When I planted them, I did with about 2/3 native soil to 1/3 compost, and I used starter fertilizer around each.
Whatd I do? Why aren't they growing?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 7:10AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

As long as they are alive they should be fine. Don't fertilize anymore and give them time. Sounds like transplant shock. It's hard to kill a crepe myrtle.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 8:26AM
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I live in northern virgina and just planted 15 medium size crepe myrtles, 9 white, 6 pink. Several of the white ones look dead, leaves are dried up, and coming off, but the branches are still flexible. We did not water as much as we should have during the first two weeks after plantation, but then started watering just about every day since for the past two weeks. We have not seen any difference, and some of the white ones look even worse, but branches are still flexible. We just poured some root stimulator in our gator bags to make sure we're soing everything possible to save these trees. Any ideas, or am I worried about nothing? These trees were $129 each so they're rather expensive to replace. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 3:28PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

First, scrap off a thin layer of bark using your fingernail to see if there is any green underneath. This will indicate what is alive. You may have to go down the trunk a bit to find some green. If you do find green, Lay off watering everyday. A deep water, which means standing there with the hose for about 4 minutes is plenty, every 4 days. Probably could go longer but too much water at this point is better than not enough but you are watering too much right now.

Then, wait. If the tree has lost its leaves and is not dead, it could take a month before you see new growth. Then wait more. By the end of July, cut off what is not green and full of leaves.

I am a fan of hose end watering. I know there are many helpful gagets in the gardening world, but standing there with the hose lets you see how much water is actually going into the plant and not running off. During that four minutes or so swing the hose into the grass so the water can be absorbed by the crepe. Then water some more.

Eventually you won't need to water so much. If you stick your finger (to the second finger joint) into the dirt directly around the crepe and it feels dry to that second joint, then it is time to water.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 6:12PM
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your last post made me feel better! I watered with sprinklers and it was not enough. Lately, I have been watering with the hose and just standing there and moving the hose just enough to let the water soak in. I am glad I am not the only one.

Where did the spring rains go? It certainately was not in the Carolinas!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:57PM
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HELP I am new to crape mrytle. I am always afraid to post here because everyone gets yelled at. I topped my crape myrtle.It did what you all said it would do. It was a nice shaped tree and then a bunch of little branches came .I dont want to cut it down to the ground. It has only one trunk not like a bush. It was about ten feet, then cut, now about 17 or 18 feet. and that bottle shape seems to be filling out a little. Any suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 8:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Hey! This is my thread and I won't put up with anyone not being nice to one another! :-)
Besides, who hasn't made a mistake along the way? (and, it's just a tree)
Leave it alone although remove any new growth or suckers at the bottom and along the trunk. Leave the top alone. It may restore itself decently over the years. And read everything you can about correct pruning.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:16PM
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Thanks bumblebeez. I will keep reading

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 3:47PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

WOW! WOW! $129 a piece! WOW! I can't get over that! It just shows how expensive plants are when purchased near edge or outside of zone! Crapes here are $8.99 for 3-gal size, anywhere from $20-$35 for 7-gal. If you had the time and energy, you might have been able to drive down to Jacksonville with a trailer and saved some of that $1,935. Then again, with the price of gas, maybe not!! I hope they survive, jbstexas5.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 7:15PM
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rocktoter(z7/8 NC)

I'm so glad that this thread is still active.

I have 3 Pink Velour Crepe Myrtles which I read can be planted 4-5' apart for a privacy screen. Can I let it be a tall bush instead of a tree? Can I leave branches near the bottom so it is full there, too?

I like Dieter2NC's idea of underplanting, but then wonder how close I can put these CMs.

Ay thoughts would be appreciated. I have a 16' wide area that I was thinking of putting 3 bushes into.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 10:01PM
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rocktoter(z7/8 NC)

Here's a link to info about the Velour Pink crepe Myrtle:

Here is a link that might be useful: Velour Pink Crepe

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 6:30AM
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chasinlex(zone 6/7)

Hey, I live in Lex, KY (zone 6/7) and some people here also commit crape murder. There was a big article this spring in our local newspaper explaining the appropriate way to prune a crape myrtle. I think some people want it to look like a topiary (bare trunk topped by a ball-shaped head of leaves/blooms) but if you leave it alone it will grow this way naturally with modest pruning.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 11:26AM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

I to get upset by this. Some towns are getting a litle better about this down here.

I have a quesion about their growing conditions in zone 7 NC. I start them from seed and send to my sister. The soil she has is Red Clay and she has lots of pines all over her property. Will the acid hirt the Crapes or will they benefit from it? I suggested she amend the planting hole with compst/cow manure.

Any helpful suggestions are appreciated.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:52AM
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I had a well known landscaper in No VA put in some 15' crepe myrtles between my front lawn and my neighbors'. She said that CM would grow and the canopies would touch and create an attractive screen. She then told me to cut them all off at 6' this spring. I trusted her, since I'm a novice gardener,and did what I was told. I have recently found this post and about "crepe murder". I'm heartsick now looking at them. They've leafed out and one is blooming, but they don't look the way I envisioned them. How do I work to repair the damage I did?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 6:34PM
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Don't feel bad about what you did. The practice is so common that I'm sure most of us did it along the way. I have 3 lovely crapes in my yard that were murdered along the way, but once somebody clued me in that murder was not necessary after all, I just started pruning for a vase shape. They look great now IMO, and I have some of the tallest crape myrtles in my neighborhood. I have 2 of the sort of lilac color that are about 20 feet and 1 white, but it's only about 10 feet tall.

So just prune to remove water sprouts at the base and take out the little ones that usually die anyway, and just encourage a vase shape and remove anything that crosses another branch or goes in a downward direction. Make it pretty and easy to mow under.

Crape murder would stop if ONLY the expert gardeners would contact the city managers and advise them on crape pruning. Also apartment managers and neighborhood developers. It's when people see the ones along the road all done that they really notice the practice and assume it's the correct thing to do. Cause landscapers should know, right?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 4:10PM
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    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 2:59AM
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You may clip off the seed clusters if you don't like how they look. Won't hurt the tree at all.

You may also prune branches that are outside of the vase shape it sounds like you are looking for. Look at the pictures of the pretty trees here and go for that shape. That will be correct pruning. After you get all the ugly sprouts growing from the bottom, then clip off any growth that is growing down instead of up. Prune off any branches you notice are crossing other branches and rubbing. There are books to help you learn how to make the cuts properly so as not to damage the tree and let the wounds heal.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 1:13PM
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Ok, so we purchased a building to start our own business. We are renovating and my husband wants me to prune two crepes that border each side of the entry. One is about 1/3 smaller than the other and has some dead limbs. I am concerned if i do this (to even them out) before they are dormant it will leave them vulnerable to disease. I know he wants them to look better, but I don't want to ruin them. Prune or not to prune? That is the question. We open in January so I have a couple months for the weather to get colder. Secondly, what can i feed the smaller to help it "catch up" with the larger? It looks like it had gotten sick and was neglected.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 10:31AM
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Crepe myrtles grow back readily enough even if you cut them all the way down. On your sickly looking one, baby it a bit with some compost or a good organic fertilizer in the spring. Keep it mulched over the winter. I wouldn't prune it unless you can't stand it. If it is destined to live it will have vigorous growth in the spring-summer. My wife's parents planted two last year, they practically died in the frost and regrew to 5 ft tall plants by summer's end. Don't give up on your sickly little friend, it will most likely return. You could cut out any branches that are obviously dead to improve the look of the trees.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 10:43PM
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Hi. I'm new to the forum, but have been lurking on and off for a few years. Since this thread has been going on for awhile, thought I'd post a question here...I received 5 CM in the mail two years ago. They were just a stick with roots at the time. We were in the process of building a new home and I had no where to plant them so I stuck them each in a pot of dirt. They grew about 6-8" and leafed out very nicely. Just put them in the ground in Nov. Do you think they will make it through the winter? They are just sticks with roots again. Drought has been bad here this year and I have not watered too often. Should I water every day? I'm pretty good with plants, but don't know too much about trees. Appreciate any help offered.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 5:46PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

They are dormant now, so will not need daily watering. Once a week if it doesn't rain should be enough. Make sure they are mulched to protect them since they are fairly new. They should begine to put out 'buds' sometime in February. At that time, you can fertilize. I wouldn't do any pruning for a few years, except for any dead or damaged branches or something unsightly.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 7:23AM
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UhOh. I'm new. I haven't quite "murdered" my CM, but you could call it "manslaughter". I have a CM that was installed last summer, and it proceeded to die back throughout the rest of summer/fall. In early winter, I pruned back to what was green, so I have an 8 foot tall tree now that is made up of thicker trunk limbs and no thin limbs. NOW, it is producing what looks like "broccoli" all over these limbs. What is that? No leaves yet, and it is now July 1. Just this dang broccoli looking stuff.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

It will take a few years to reestablish the shape while the roots settle in. I know it looks bad now but give it time....
Keep it watered through any drought.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:39PM
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I have a 15ft crepe myrtle that was planted by the builder last spring. It looks healthy and is in the process of shedding it's bark. One problem is that is has never produced flowers. I have read that it needs to be pruned, but I have no clue as to when and how (or if)to prune. Can someone please point me in the right direction.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Trees do not need to be pruned to produce flowers.
Does it get enough sun and water or does it get too much fertilizer - even from the grass applications?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 2:00PM
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It gets about 9 hours of direct sunlight a day. I water it about twice a week and it has a heavy base of mulch around the trunk. I have not fertilized this year so I do not think that is the problem. The tree was installed by the builder last April as a replacement for another tree that was planted over the gas and electric lines (smart huh?) It has never flowred since it was planted and I do not know how long since it did. I am at a loss as to what to do. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 9:13PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Last April being April 2008? I would still give it time. Definitely ease up on the watering to deep watering once a week. If it was planted in 2007 you could tip prune it this winter.
I have one crepe (planted in 2000)that only does well every couple years gets no additional water but some years it's a dud and some years spectacular.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 12:09PM
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I purchased a 4' Sioux crape myrtle in the spring, my first, and fell in love. In December my little grandson was 4 wheeling in the yard in the snow.....and ran over it. It broke off at GROUND LEVEL. Not 6" above, at ground level. Although no roots were removed, will it come back? Being a newbie, I didn't realize I could have rooted clippings, so I threw it away. Thanks for any advice.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Since this thread still seems to be mostly alive, I want to pose another question about Crepe Myrtles that I haven't seen in all the reading I've done here and other places around the net.

I planted 10 ea 10 ft Crepe Myrtles down my driveway about a year ago. There were 5 ea Muskogee and 5 ea Natchez and I planted them 50 ft apart, alternating the two varieties. I need about 4 more to complete the driveway but I couldn't afford them all at one time.

They all bloomed some last year but not as much as I expect this year. They all have begun sprouting leaves this year and I did prune them them some last month to remove rubbing limbs and to remove outside limbs above head height. I also took out a few trunks since some had as many as 11 main trunks.

The majority have good a good shape but a couple have main trunks that grow outward making the trees wide at the ground level and growing more like a bowl than a vase.

My question: Can I put a wide band around those and train them to grow straighter until they get at least head high? I don't want them all to look exactly alike but I'd like them to have at least the same general shape and be able to mow around them without hitting the trunks.

I want them to grow into trees like one a few miles from me. I never stopped to ask them what the variety is but it's a red, not quite like watermelon, but the tree is at least 25 ft tall.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 1:49AM
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Since this thread still seems to be mostly alive, I want to pose another question about Crepe Myrtles that I haven't seen in all the reading I've done here and other places around the net.

I planted 10 ea 10 ft Crepe Myrtles down my driveway about a year ago. There were 5 ea Muskogee and 5 ea Natchez and I planted them 50 ft apart, alternating the two varieties. I need about 4 more to complete the driveway but I couldn't afford them all at one time.

They all bloomed some last year but not as much as I expect this year. They all have begun sprouting leaves this year and I did prune them them some last month to remove rubbing limbs and to remove outside limbs above head height. I also took out a few trunks since some had as many as 11 main trunks.

The majority have good a good shape but a couple have main trunks that grow outward making the trees wide at the ground level and growing more like a bowl than a vase.

My question: Can I put a wide band around those and train them to grow straighter until they get at least head high? I don't want them all to look exactly alike but I'd like them to have at least the same general shape and be able to mow around them without hitting the trunks.

I want them to grow into trees like one a few miles from me. I never stopped to ask them what the variety is but it's a red, not quite like watermelon, but the tree is at least 25 ft tall.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 4:05PM
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txmom(North Texas)

I was just on a RANT with my husband about his pruning (topping off) of our crepe myrtles. The pictures posted here are SO on target! That is what my crepes look like now. No natural grace.
He doesn't get it and so the battle is lost...I really would like to cut these 30 year old trees back to the ground to see if they would re-emerge as the beauties I enjoyed until he retired and took over the pruning duties!

Of course - he also wants all our shrubs trimmed into boxed hedges....

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:03PM
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Txmom, yes, you can cut them back to the ground and they will regrow. This is NOT part of my pruning practice but I know for a fact that Crapes are extraordinarily sturdy plants/trees once established. Last Winter was hellacious in terms of prolonged cold and one of my Zuni looked completely DEAD. The one next to it needed some pruning but recuperated and is currently in good bloom. The one that looked dead was cut back to the ground virtually and I was ready to dig it out when I saw it resprouting from all around the base. It's not in bloom YET but I bet even this one will bloom this season and by next year it'll fully recoup. I was so sure this Zuni was dead that I looked all over for a replacement. Couldn't find one but instead added to the Crape collection with Dynamites, Sioux, Catawba (new favorite), Hopi, and another whose name eludes me now. Chomp away at your husband's 'handiwork' if you like is my advice! :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:17PM
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I really enjoyed the read about butchering Crepe Myrtles! We inherited our home from my Hubby's Grandparents, well we bought the home form the family trust and inherited a lovely Crepe Myrtle. I had never seen one before I saw this one, and now they are everywhere we go in Vacaville, I was in Sacramento over the weekend and they have them too. We had 5 fruit trees in our yard, some of which had survived some butchering. It seems that grandpa in his pater years cut the lemon tree down to a nub but amazingly the crepe myrtle went unscathed. We had a 36 year old apple tree, it towered over the other trees and created shade, it was full of ants and the trunk was split and oozing and mushrooms were growing on it. Now that we removed it that we have noticed the other trees thriving all the more, especially our citrus trees. Most recently though, our Crepe Myrtle is having all sorts of chutes popping up under it. My hubby thinks they're suckers but I think they are babies. I think the reason we didn't have so many before was all the shade from our apple tree. I just transplanted them to the front yard in pots to see if they can grow on their own. Anyone else have luck with that?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 4:00PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

They could be root suckers OR seedlings. Crape myrtles can be quite weedy that way, and in some locations are considered invasive.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 3:25PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

The annual crape murderfest is already starting (even though it's still warm!) here. A lot of the plants they butchered a couple of weeks ago are putting out tender new growth just in time for cold weather. :-(

There is one older house here that had HUGE crape myrtles - two side by side in front of the house that were easily 30' tall and almost as wide, and one slightly smaller one centered in front of them. All had been trained to a standard when young, and about 5' off the ground they began to naturally spread and branch to beautiful, full round canopies. Each tree had hundreds and hundreds of bloom pannicles each summer. They were the most spectacular crapes I've ever seen...I used to go out of my way to drive down that street to see them when they bloomed.

About 5 years guessed it...they were cut to about a foot above the central trunks. AGH! These weren't even my crapes and I nearly cried. The first year after pruning was pitiful - long scraggly floppy stems. They have recovered some of their shape since, but they will never be the glorious specimens they were. I wish I had before and after pictures to post - they would make crape fans weep.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 3:24PM
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hello i am new to the forum. Can crape myrtle seeds bee planted in the fall? I am just wondering.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Thanks for all the GREAT advice.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 11:09AM
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I am trying to find out any info I can on two crape myrtles I bought at a local garden center chain (you know the kind - where the employees are pretty much just cashiers and know nothing about the products they sell). Anyway, I fear I may have been sold a dwarf variety or something that won't grow to my desired mature height. How can I tell before I plant? Would it help if I posted a photo or two?

Many thanks to all!!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 12:41PM
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