crepe myrtle time

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 vent...my 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.

Comments (105)

  • gardenlady22

    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.

  • treedude

    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

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  • wghman

    Please don't kill me...but what, if any, is the proper procedure for pruning crepe myrtle? When is the best time?

    Thanks, warren

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • ariesf5

    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???

  • vickishome

    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.

  • tweedbunny

    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?

  • 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.

  • jbstexas5

    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.

  • 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.

  • lsst

    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!

  • baileybear

    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.

  • 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.

  • baileybear

    Thanks bumblebeez. I will keep reading

  • Carol love_the_yard (Zone 9A Jacksonville, 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.

  • rocktoter

    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.


  • rocktoter

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


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

  • chasinlex

    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.

  • tropicalfreak

    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.


  • kaplanandbrown_verizon_net

    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?

  • laurabs


    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?

  • ymgilbert


  • laurabs

    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.

  • texas_reddaisy

    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.


  • Dave Townsend

    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.

  • lovesdirt

    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.

  • buford

    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.

  • barblong

    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.

  • 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.

  • wtgodfrey

    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.

  • 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?

  • wtgodfrey

    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?

  • 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 ...it gets no additional water but some years it's a dud and some years spectacular.

  • Arose4Rita

    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.

  • w_e_t

    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.

  • w_e_t

    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.

  • txmom

    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....

  • subtropix

    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! :)

  • Foreverkramm

    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?

  • 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.

  • L_in_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 ago...you 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.

  • rkingjrus281

    hello i am new to the forum. Can crape myrtle seeds bee planted in the fall? I am just wondering.

  • jlosc

    Thanks for all the GREAT advice.

  • RDubya

    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!!

  • bdeimel

    So this is my comment on this lengthy thread. I have 2 crape myrtles. The winter didnt do them any favors. It is June now in Maryland and there is no leafing at all. Zombie trees. I can tell much of the tops are dead. I was told to remove the dead branches back to where it is visibly alive. However if I do this my trees will look like ¨crape murder¨ It appears the only healthy alive branches are the main trunks and very very few of the 2ndary ones.


  • vickishome

    bdeimel, if those were my trees, I'd most likely not cut anything just yet. I'd let them sprout growth wherever they were able and let that become my guide. Then later in the season when it's clear what's alive and what's dead, I'd begin removing the dead wood. Once you're down to just living wood, I'd then begin to prune for shape (much like you do any regular tree).

    There is an exception to cutting out the dead wood: If that wood is helping the new growth to "stand" upright instead of flopping over, then I'd leave the dead wood in place until the new growth can hold itself up without help. So, in effect, the dead branches would serve as stakes, holding up the new growth.

    If the tree's shape would be permanently deformed in the end, you may want to cut the entire tree back to the ground and start it over. It's a little late in the year to do that now so I'd probably wait until next year. Plus, by then, you should have a better idea of what the tree will look like with the new growth and then can make a more informed decision on whether to keep it that way or cut it down and restart it.

  • gmagic911x

    Our CM is about 8 ft. tall. Last Feb. I trimmed off about 3 ft. of it. The only part that is bloomiing is the 3 ft. part that grew back again. That implies I should have pruned off more.

  • vickishome

    Wrong. That simply implies that crape myrtles bloom from new growth. Like all plants, crape myrtles grow just fine from unpruned branches. Pruning typically leaves fewer branches from which the tree is able to grow, leaving less growth for blooms, and the growth that does occur has weak attachments which causes the new branches to droop over every time it rains. Your picture clearly exemplifies that problem caused by excessive pruning. Notice how misshapen and unsightly your tree is now.

    But go ahead and prune off 4 feet. Or 5 feet. Or why not go all the way down 7 feet. It's your tree. Once you've ruin it completely, then prune it 8 feet and start it over. According to your idea, the entire 8 feet should grow back, nice and strong, in one season (it won't). Good luck!

  • gmagic911x

    Thanks, I think (?).

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