Trimming Crepe Myrtles

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Sunstate Lawn, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. Sunstate Lawn

    Sunstate Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    I have heard two schools of thought on this. One is that you should cut all the branches back to the stalks, and the other is that you should leave branches on the stalks. :confused:Opinions?


    FIRESCOOBY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 986

    I'm no expert on pruning at all, so take this for what it's worth. I've done both for various reasons. I think a lot of it depends on what you're trying to achieve and if it has been allowed to grow "unchecked" for some time.

    I think many times you might be able to just do some slight selective pruning. Other times it seems like it might be healthier to do some in depth pruning. Like I said, it depends on what look you're trying achieve and the health of the plant.
  3. Homegrown

    Homegrown LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Don't lop the tops off, remove branches smaller than a pencil and any suckers at the base, leaving 3-4 main trunks. google crepe murder:clapping:

    SILVERSTREAK INC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    yeah what are you trying to go for? lower height?

    in pruning you look and prune out

    damaged branches

    diseased branches

    dead branches

    crossing leaders

    while doing this try not to leave too many crows feet, in the crepe myrtle itd be a good idea to use loppers and prune out some of the super large branches down the bottom, maybe one or two (depending how big and established the tree is) by doing this every year or two you can slowly rejunatively prune it out. they also say fert in the spring with straight nitrogen.
  5. Sunstate Lawn

    Sunstate Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    I've seen mostly butchering of crepes down here. Usually the stalk and the first fork is left every season. Some of these stalks are 2" at the cut, and it seems really extreme. This is the norm, though. How did this get started? I don't see anyone do any sort of selective pruning on crepes.
  6. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 724

    In some parts of the country you tend to get more flowers if you cut them back every year or least they say they do. In farming areas they cut the grape vines way back or the apples a certain way and assume everything should be that way. Senior citizens seem to always want to hack everything back annually and maybe that explains Floridas situation :).

    Whatever the reason there is a legitimate pruning technique called Pollarding that sets up a basic plant structure as a young tree and then removes the growth each year to manage tree size. If it's done properly (which few people seem too in this country, in other countries it's a more mainstream technique) it's actually not that stressful on tree species suited to it.

    Personally I think a well pruned, naturally formed Crepe Myrtle is such a beautiful tree I can't imagine wanting to cut it back every year.
  7. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 724

  8. killerv

    killerv LawnSite Member
    from 8
    Messages: 1

    I bought a house a couple of years back where the previous owner absolutely butchered their crepe myrtles. Having doing some researching i came across "crepe murder". It seem 90% of the crepe myrtles around town have been done this way. They are much more beatiful when you let them grown naturally just pruning the rubbing branches, twiggy growth, and suckers. Anyway, I cut 3 of mine all the way to the ground. In a season there were back to 5 ft high, and I left all growth on them for this first season. (I tried keeping one of the trees pruned like I wanted it while it was rejuvenating and that a little much to handle, so I decided to let what would grow harden off last year and selectively prune this year). This year, I will pick out the 3 to 5 stalks I want to keep and clean out the rest so finally I will have natural looking crepe myrtles again.
  9. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    The University of Fl did a study and proved that crepe murder does not produce more flowers. It does how ever cause some problems making it more susceptible to powdery mildew and aphids. You have to treat them like trees. Cutting brances at random places does not allow the tree to compartmentalize the wound. All be it, crepe myrtles are a pretty hardy plant, and can be brought back from the dead if they are crepe murded. There are new dwarf varieties that stay in the 3'-5' range, and some that stay in the 8'-10' range. Pick the right plant for the right place. Don't plant a giant seqoia in your 500 sq ft yard. lol
  10. SpringHillTnLandscaping

    SpringHillTnLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    I usually prune Crepe Myrtles if the client requests it during the dormant season. I do selective pruning to keep a proper form I am looking for. Most of my clients like to have a small multi trunked Crepe Myrtle tree that starts out in Spring about 5' to 6' high, I always remove the suckers during the year on the trunk and base. After most of the blooms start to fade I do some bloom pruning and usually get a great flush of new blooms after that. Most people that have them around my clients stop blooming while mine are going strong with fresh blooms. I spray for Japanese beatles during the Beatle outbreak in Summer and Fertilize in Spring and I have never heard of Crepe Murder haha it sounds funny tho. I am hoping when you say Crape Murder you are not talking about the way I am pruning. I have read several books on proper pruning of trees and shrubs and believe I am doing things the way I should. I do get great results so can someone give me a clear definition of Crepe Murder? Ty

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