Crape Myrtle murder has started early in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX this year. I have been driving around watching the landscapers out pruning for the last few weeks. The sad thing is that there’s absolutely no reason to scalp murder a tree the way they do. I expect many of you have heard the story of Grandma’s roast. It seems Grandma cut the end of the roast off, so Mom cut the end of her roast off and so on. Finally someone got around to asking Grandma why she cut the roast off and her answer was so it could fit in the pan. To me that’s a good analogy of the crape myrtle murder that goes on in our area. From everything I have read and actual experience I cannot see that it does any good to the Crape Myrtle tree.
I made the small video above showing exactly what I’m talking about. We are having subnormal cold weather right now and I also hope these trees don’t go into shock.
There are a lot of different ideas on how to take care of the crape myrtles. You see varying degrees of pruning to not pruning at all. I did quite a bit of research and the general consensus was that they should be lightly pruned. Over pruning reduces the number of blooms. I also read where there is a mistaken belief that lopping off the tops of all the branches is necessary to promote flowering. This is what is called Crape murder.
Flowering on a crape myrtle occurs on the new branches that are produced in the spring; so light pruning in late winter encourages the production of flowering branches. One of the articles said that if the trees are tipped back lightly after the first flush of bloom, some trees are likely to bloom a second time. Cutting the trees back heavily can shock them and slow down the growth of flowering branches. If you don't prune at all this article said the flower clusters that emerge in the summer will be smaller but more prolific.
From everything I have read over pruning where people chop the crape myrtle back to the knuckle each and every year reduces the number of blooms that will be produced during the summer and the new branches that do grow will be far too long and will not be able to support the weight of heavy blossoms; especially when they get wet. Thus these long branches often break off during heavy rains and our area is known for those heavy rains.
As I was posting my video I found the video below and he gives some excellent advice on how to take care of your crape myrtles.
Not being originally from this area dealing with crape myrtles has been a new and learning experience for us. When we first moved here we lopped off those branches every year and then wondered if we had bought dwarf crape myrtle. The last few years we tried the method that I have described here and not even pruning at all. You can see from my picture below that we have had a wonderful success not pruning. The picture was taken at dusk as it just set the flowers off.
Copyright © 2011 Marchel Peterson, All Rights Reserved. *Crape Myrtle murder in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX!!*