Crape Murder can be defined as improper pruning by excessively cutting back the canopy of your tree. Crape Murder has been a copy cat trend for years, especially in commercial landscapes, and does not show signs of stopping. Homeowners often question why our crews are not following this trend since they have been inundated with these techniques. Is it our crew’s inexperience? Is it profiteering? Simply put its wrong.
Most homeowners or professionals do not prune tops of maple trees, dogwood trees, oak trees, so why do we see this commonly practiced on Crape Myrtles? By pruning the top out of your Crape you destroy the natural shape and reduce flower yield. Crape Myrtles are well known for their attractive bark which can bring winter interest when the garden flowers are dormant.
What are the steps to properly maintain a Crape Myrtle?
- First, choose the area you would like to plant a tree. Inspect for size restraints knowing the tree will grow from the various sizes available from the garden center. If you want a Crape Myrtle that is only six feet tall, you do not achieve this by cutting out the tops of a tree. You would want to select a dwarf Crape myrtle which will correctly grow for that particular area. Crape myrtles can mature anywhere from 20 inches all the way up to 30 feet.
- Naturally allow the tree to establish and mature. Crape Myrtles prefer full sun light. They are also great trees in the sense they are tolerant of adverse conditions (drought, heat, pests, etc)
- Each year inspect the tree for any declined branching or cross-branching. You will want to remove any damaged limbs to avoid insect or pathogen invasion. Cross-branching is when two or more limbs begin growing in opposing directions. Ultimately one branch will rub on another and create wounds. Wounds can lead to insect or pathogen invasion in which selectively pruning of f a branch should be done.