CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for a case of “Crape Murder”

Crape Murder

Some people call it pruning. Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS call it “crape murder”.

Early each year, before the seasonal tasks of Spring heat up, you will see unskilled maintenance crews hacking the tops from graceful Crape Myrtles to ensure they send out new shoots. This is unnecessary busy work. Crape Myrtles reliably flower annually with or without pruning. 

This ham-handed attempt to force flowers on new wood destroys the natural shape of the Crape Myrtles for many years. Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS recommend leaving graceful shrubs unpruned. They will reliably produce bountiful flowers next summer regardless!  

About Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtle, (Lagerstroemia indica) is one of the most commonly-used flowering shrubs/trees in metro-Atlanta landscaping today. A tall and graceful multi-trunked woody ornamental with beautiful giraffe-like exfoliating bark, crape myrtle provides welcome flowers in late summer through fall.  Bright colors include the original watermelon-pink through white, light pink, magenta, lavender and carmine red. 

Size Categories for crape myrtles

There is a size and habit of crape myrtle for every landscape situation that avoids all forms of pruning. Sizes range from groundcover crape myrtles that drape on the ground like carpets to crape myrtlettes that grow only about 3 feet in large planters, to the typically sized 8-12 feet, to the giant white variety ‘Natchez’ that grows to 40 feet and is beloved for its beautiful patterned bark. The United States National Arboretum lists varieties alphabetically in their Lagerstroemia Checklist.  It is ideal to select the correct cultivar is at planting time.

What is “Crape Murder”?

Because crape myrtles flower on new wood, unskilled maintenance crews will hack the tops off of graceful shrubs to ensure they will send out new wood. This is unnecessary!

Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS recommend leaving graceful plants unpruned. They will reliably produce bountiful flowers next summer regardless!  

In the case of overgrown shrubs, your LandscapEXPERTS Team will carefully select by eye and hand-remove stump sprouts and crossing or rubbing internal limbs. We can slightly reduce the overall size of the plant with expert, selective pruning with hand clippers. Small twigs less than pencil size can unobtrusively lower the height of a crapemyrtle.  

Contact your Crabapple rep if you want us to remove spent blossoms in late August to force a second flush of bloom in autumn!

Or, if a small tree with a single trunk suits your requirements best, Crabapple can select a strong main trunk and remove side branches (limb up) the woody ornamental to form a tree-like canopy.  No way will we practice the unskilled crape murder that leads to unsightly knobs of wood and destroys the natural shape of the tree.

DYK? there is a FB Community called Stop Crape Murder: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Crape-Murder/154367104600280?fref=ts

Digging deeper about Crape Myrtle pruning with UGA:  http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubdetail.cfm?pk_id=6861


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