How to choose and properly care for crape myrtles

Crape Myrtles suffering from crape murder

Photograph: Jill Odom

As soon as once more, landscapers are getting away with homicide and owners are blithely unaware there’s something mistaken with the monstrosities they’re committing.

Now, I’m not speaking precise homicide however the without end merciless observe of “crape murder.” That is when a landscaper tops a crape myrtle within the perception that they’re serving to it or is satisfied that topping is an efficient type of pruning.

Crape myrtles are a sublime staple of the South. They’re notably resilient, and that is a part of the explanation crape homicide continues to go unchecked. As a result of these bushes are inclined to survive their maiming yearly, individuals assume that it should be okay and proceed the observe.

Additionally it is prevalent because of the assumption amongst each landscapers and owners that if others are doing it, then it should be proper.

These bushes bloom on new wooden, so some could imagine that they’re growing the variety of the blooms the crape myrtle will produce throughout the summer time. Whereas the blooms will, certainly, be larger, there are fewer and they’re going to develop on weak new shoots that are inclined to flop over and droop after summer time rains.

Improperly pruned crape myrtles

Crape myrtles constantly pruned incorrectly type knobs just like the one within the image.
Photograph: Jill Odom

One other generally cited motive for topping crape myrtles is actually because the plant has outgrown its house, however this may be simply prevented by choosing the precise cultivar for the realm. There are lots of varieties with mature sizes starting from three to 30 ft, so saying a tree bought too large ought to by no means be the excuse for merely chopping the highest off of a crape myrtle.

Aggressive pruning ends in many shoots rising from the highest of the reduce stems, ruining the plant’s pure type. Not solely does this methodology of pruning scar the tree, however it may well encourage pest issues, similar to aphids, and weakens the plant general.

Select the precise measurement

You’ve most likely heard it 1,000,000 occasions about utilizing the precise plant for the precise place, however this mindset can’t be overstated. There are such a lot of points you possibly can keep away from by merely being conscious of the place you might be inserting a plant and the way giant it can turn into at its mature measurement. If you select the correctly sized crape myrtle cultivar, you gained’t need to face the dilemma of getting to severely trim it again to make it slot in an area.

Click on here to view plenty of cultivars damaged down by their peak, in addition to their flower coloration and resistance to mildew.

The fitting strategy to prune

The very first thing to know is that when crape myrtles are planted in the precise place, they want little or no, if any, pruning.

If pruning is carried out, it needs to be completed throughout the late winter or early spring previous to new progress. Pruning crape myrtles within the late summer time or early fall may end up in new shoots freezing in the event that they fail to go totally dormant.

For the primary few years of progress, pruning needs to be carried out to encourage the pure vase-like form.

This consists of eradicating suckers from the underside of the plant, eradicating crossed, broken or diseased branches and scaling down small twiggy progress to permit air to higher flow into within the cover.

For crossed branches, take away the weaker of the 2 limbs rubbing. Because the bushes age, much less pruning needs to be wanted.

“A well-trained crape myrtle won’t want yearly pruning, so proceed that observe solely as wanted to develop sound construction and improve the plant’s well being,” the Virginia Cooperative Extension writes.

Repairing the injury

If a consumer or a earlier landscaping firm has dedicated crape homicide, all just isn’t misplaced, however it can take drastic measures and time for the tree to recuperate. There are two choices in terms of rehabilitating a crape myrtle, in response to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

One methodology is to decide on the strongest two or three sprouts from every stub after which take away all the opposite sprouts. Proceed this process for a couple of seasons and the tree ought to enhance and turn into stronger.

The extra excessive alternative is to chop the tree again to inside one or two inches of the bottom throughout dormancy. After two or three weeks of progress, select three to 5 of the strongest shoots on every trunk and take away the others. Take away the brand new shoots that emerge later. Three to 5 years later, the crape myrtle could have returned to the shape that nature supposed.

Crape homicide is rarely completed purposefully with sick intentions, which is why it is very important proceed to teach your friends and clients of the hurt this observe does to those lovely and sturdy crops.


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